From The Editor’s Desk

This Toxic Sense Of Entitlement

Dear Readers,

Many times, the solution to a crisis escapes us, hidden beneath its smaller details. As concerned and responsible Parsis/Iranis in India, we are all disturbed about our eminent extinction and disappointed at the slow pace of well-meaning initiatives and solutions. There are other issues which plague our community, apart from our dwindling numbers and intercaste marriages – there’s the whole orthodox-liberal divide, lack of the entrepreneurial spirit which we were once known for, scarcity of Mobeds/caretakers for our Agiaries, corruption within the community and its elected caretakers, paucity of modern-day heroes/role models for our youth, etc.

Maybe we’ve overlooked the fact that issues within a community are usually the symptoms of a failed collective mechanism of its individuals – i.e. the result of unhealthy attitudes and corrosive beliefs within us… that we perhaps, unintentionally foster. And should we dig a little deeper, it is our sense of entitlement which reigns supreme amongst these.

So, what is a Sense of Entitlement?

Sense of Entitlement, by definition, is the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment; or harbours unmerited/inappropriate expectations from others.

How does it come into being?

It’s imbibed based on our upbringing – nurtured by our surroundings and the general value system (or lack of it) within our homes and our community.

When does a sense of entitlement become a problem?

When we believe that we deserve certain privileges — without making any contribution or effort towards earning, consolidating or furthering these — simply because we are born into it. Instead of appreciating these privileges with humility and a sense of gratitude, we become arrogantly demanding of these! Instead of using this cushy platform as a launch-pad to help us soar further, towards what should have been our quest for greater achievements or excellence, we seem to have perfected the fine art of being couch-potatoes – mentally and physically – converting an inspiring advantage into an appalling handicap!

In clinical psychology, an exaggerated sense of entitlement may be considered a symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), seen in those who, according to Sigmund Freud, “demand lifelong reimbursement from fate”. Sound familiar yet?

We don’t have to go too far to find examples of this ‘entitlement behaviour’. It is rife in our community. Most of us have failed our own sense of privilege, and our community. Unfortunately, the privileges that we were gifted as a community by our generous and illustrious forefathers – whether concrete/materialistic ones like housing, grants, etc; or abstract ones like the great Parsi legacy of achievements, industriousness, progressiveness – have failed us too. Because these were meant to lessen our struggles so we could focus on the bigger picture and keep that legacy of greatness going.

But we haven’t. Instead, we’ve chosen to use these very privileges as an excuse to sit back and achieve close-to-nothing really! Where’s the need? We have institutions like the BPP telling us they will cater to us ‘From The Womb To The Tomb’, and they do that, for the most part. We have grants for numerous facilities. We have doles. We may be rich enough to possess multiple vehicles but how dare we be told to pay for a small increase in the parking surcharge! We may enjoy the good quality of life offered in the Baugs (undeniably way better than that outside of the Baugs) but we are enraged when asked to undertake our own repairs by ourselves, or worse, belt out a slight increase in the rents – even when the sum is laughable, compared to the real market rates of rent outside! And this, inspite of the provision that those who are genuinely unable to afford the increase, will be given a waiver! Ever wonder how crestfallen our forefathers would be to see what unfortunate scroungers we have reduced ourselves to, using the very privileges they extended to us, hoping we would do them proud and perhaps even out-perform them!

Every week I receive numerous letters/emails, and a good percentage of these are full of complaints about how certain authorities are not ‘doing their bit’ to keep these freebies (because that’s how we treat privileges) going. And maybe this is the malaise affecting our community. We are so used to our privileges, we have forgotten we could be of use too! This is the poison within our community – this toxic sense of entitlement. Most of our youth today are so ‘okay’ doing not much, ‘okay’ without high aspirations, ‘okay’ to be stuck in mundane jobs which do not justify their talents or passions. The proverbial ‘fire in their belly’ gets doused when they drink at this watering hole of entitlements. We need to face up to the fact that these entitlements is not the watering hole, it is the crocodile at the watering hole.

Abraham Lincoln said, “You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.” Resting on the laurels, privileges and achievements of our forefathers, without so much as a fleeting intent or effort to consolidate or give back to our legacy, is a brazen level of shamelessness that has steadily crept into us over time, all thanks to this sense of entitlement we thrive on, making this deadly lethargy ‘okay’. As a community, we are known as much for our joie de vivre as we are known for our wisdom. But, in the words of Herbert Spencer, “The wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is the parent of the future.”

We need to break out of this selfish cocoon, which is yet another aftermath of this sense of entitlement, and start thinking about the legacy we will leave behind for our future generations. Let’s start asking what we can do for our community, instead… It’s time.

Have a lovely weekend!

– Anahita

Latest posts by Anahita Subedar (see all)

Leave a Reply