head, heart, hands ii: entitlement

Friday I had to do some laundry. I hate doing laundry. It’s one of those things I recognize has to be done in order to be an effective member of society, and that’s it. Laundry happens for purely functional reasons.

I figured I’d check on my clothes in the dryer fifteen minutes before they were due, because sometimes if I’m lucky it finishes early. Friday, though, it wasn’t done. In fact, it was even in the dryer anymore. It was strewn on top, wet and wrinkled. Inside the dryer were about two washcloths, a couple pair of underwear and a sock or two. Now, I’m not typically a guy who gets angry. I actually yelled at the dryer. Unfortunately, the dryer didn’t fight back, and I was left to carry my now musty clothing upstairs.

I thought to myself “who thinks they are entitled to take someone else’s laundry out whenever he or she feels like it?”

Entitlement.

We live in a society that thrives on entitlement. I’m entitled to this job I have. I’m entitled to go out on Friday and spend my money, do things to and with my body, hang out with who I want, when I want, how I want. After all, I earned it, right? I’m entitled to tell whomever whatever because I’m entitled to my opinion. I’m also entitled to bail on anything I don’t want to do, because I’m entitled to happiness as often as possible.

While we’re on the subject, I’m clearly entitled to your kindness and grace when I do what I want.

Yet somehow this doesn’t connect. This is the irony of entitlement. Deep down, I want to do what I want, but I don’t necessarily like when everyone else does what they want. Ultimately, entitlement runs cross-purposes with grace. And while I don’t have the statistics, I can’t help but think some of the biggest conflicts I’ve seen in my time at Gannon have been caused by allowing a desire for entitlement get in the way of reaching out and giving someone just a bit of grace.

You and I see everyday. Turn on the news. Pick up the newspaper. Walk down the street. Fight with your roommate. I promise you somewhere along the line, you will see entitlement at its worst.

I’m not against good things, don’t get me wrong. As I’m getting older, however, I’m finding out that I’m really not that much more special than the person next to me. Or, maybe put more appropriately, the person next to me is just as special and as I am. You, Mr. or Ms. Reader-of-my-article, mean just as much to me as I do. Or at least I’m doing all I can to make sure you do.

So if you need to use a dryer with my clothes in, just fold my laundry. I would have felt really cared for, and the dryer wouldn’t have been yelled at. It didn’t deserve it, really. And for as much as I hate laundry, ten folded shirts would have been the most graceful thing anyone could do.

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