Sunday, February 05, 2012

I am not mine

"We must completely forget ourselves, so that we regard ourselves as an object which has been sold and over which we no longer have any rights." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

I have found this to be vital to my living at shalom in this world, that I am a slave to God. There is no part of my life for which I am the master. I am not in control. When I demand my rights before God, I am placing myself above him. I am declaring my divinity, at least in regards to my own life. But when I give up all rights before him, he is my advocate. I no longer have anything to worry about but remaining close to him.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Pet Peeve Summary, or why you dropping off your kid in the driveway of the house across the street from the school makes me mad

The 3.5 faithful readers know that I've published rants in the past about my pet peeves. Now I don't have many (there's probably less than 10; I was going to link to old posts, but frankly I'm being too lazy right now), but the ones that tick me off, REALLY tick me off.

But last week as I dropped my daughter off at school, and once again watched a number of parents who think that the rules of the drop-off just don't apply to them (endangering their own children and others!), it hit me.

American exceptionalism has come home to roost in the soul of individuals. And it's called entitlement.

Entitlement has become a bad word in conservative circles, as it refers to the excesses around "safety net" programs of federal assistance, meant to help those in financial crises not fall through the cracks, but have a net that protects them from free fall. These programs do a lot of good, but for some have become places of entitlement, where with everything from food stamps to social security we believe that we are guaranteed certain benefits. We manipulate the system as much as possible for our own profit. By no means do I think that this is the majority of people in these programs, nor do I necessarily think that this means the program is bad, but there's ample evidence of people who game the system.

But the type of entitlement I'm referring to here is actually something different, and while it's more subtle, it's far more insidious to our overall well-being. It's an entitlement that doesn't try to game the system, but an entitlement that says "the system doesn't apply to me, at least in these circumstances." It is a sense of individual exceptionalism that says "I don't have to follow these rules," because I'm too important, too much in a hurry, or my kid is more important than yours, or my car is more expensive than yours, etc. etc.

After all, we deserve the best, right?

Yes, this sense of entitlement is much more prevalent than the usually-discussed-by-conservatives kind. And quite frankly I see it as even more common in those who have been successful in life at one level or another.

But I think that the teachings of Jesus, when they take root in us, will destroy this sense of individual exceptionalism. When we have the mind of Christ, we begin to think of "others as more important than ourselves."  We learn to serve those around us, learn to be last instead of first, and see ourselves as stewards of God's resources, not owners of our own.

So here's my ultimate pet peeve (and there's no way around the fact that I'm all too guilty of this myself), people who ignore the system because of a sense of personal exceptionalism and entitlement.

Maybe with this I can just cut my pet peeves down to 1...