What a loaded word. Merriam-Webster defines entitlement as the “belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.” This word is lobbed around a lot these days, particularly in relation to young people and, among other things, the desire for: affordable healthcare, affordable education, clean water, equal rights and protection for the LBTGQ+ community, the world not to turn into a smoldering pile of ash, women to have control of their bodies, freedom of religious expression (you know, for ALL religions), social justice, and, apparently now, the ability to exercise one’s right to peaceful protest.
Chances are, if you’re in your 20s or 30s and care about any or all of the above you’ve been called entitled.
But the thing is, we’re not entitled. We’re tired. We’re tired because women’s reproductive rights are still under attack. We’re still fighting this same old fight and it’s draining, man. We’re tired because most of us work multiple jobs. We pursue our dreams in our free time, while working at whatever job will hire us — despite many of us having higher education. That’s exhausting.
We’re tired because we call our reps and go to rallies and march on our state capitals, and it still feels like the water is going to cover our heads. We’re tired of trying to stay afloat, keep up, know what the hell is going on politically, and stay informed. It’s all-consuming.
We’re tired because despite how long people have been fighting for equality, and despite the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in the US, we now have a VP who apparently believes in “conversion therapy.” We’re worried about our rights and the rights of those we love coming under attack because, despite the gains made under the Obama administration, LGBTQ+ people still do not have full federal equality.
We’re tired because 6.4 million young adults are estimated to lose their healthcare coverage with Trumpcare. We’re calling and we’re fighting and it seems like nothing is changing.
And young people are not the only ones impacted by this bill. In fact, the new Senate bill was recently revealed and, as expected, it rolls back the current Medicaid expansion, primarily targeting low-income Americans. It also allows older people to be charged FIVE TIMES AS MUCH as younger people, by insurance companies. This bill targets our most vulnerable Americans, but we’re still fighting.
We’re tired of being given “helpful” advice from people who think they have it all figured out. Some such advice came from Tim Gurner a 35 year-old millionaire developer from Australia. According to Gurner, the reason many millennials cannot afford to buy a house is because of our spending habits. Those habits which include, among other things, buying avocado toast.
That’s right, avocado toast — it’s what’s keeping us from owning our dream homes. TOAST WITH AVOCADO ON IT.
Ahh, yes. Future historians will one day write of how one generation was brought to its collective knees by their love of this strange vegetable. Or is it a fruit? No matter, it’s clearly as dangerous as internet pornography or black tar heroine. Silly millennials, will we never learn?
Thankfully the internet, as it is wont to do, took this and ran. The sheer number of tweets regarding avocados and the demise of the economy have been staggering, and hilarious.
Avocado toast: $35,000
Someone good at the economy please help me budget this
— Murtaza Hussain (@MazMHussain) May 15, 2017
Our abhorrent avocado-spending habits aside, we grew up believing that there was a place for us in the world. That if we worked hard enough, got the right education, ticked all the right boxes, that the world would welcome us with open arms. That we would be able to create things and influence ideas and change opinions. So that’s what we’re doing. It may be a little harder and look a little differently than what we expected, but we’re doing it all the same. The world we inherited isn’t the world we want, so we’re changing things. But sometimes we get tired.
We’re tired of being told we’re entitled, simply for wanting a better world for ourselves and for those around us. And for daring to do something about it.
This, I’ve got to say, is the most infuriating and exhausting of all. When a group of graduating Notre Dame students exercised their right to peaceful protest by walking out of their own college graduation ceremony when Vice President Mike Pence delivered a commencement speech, my only thought was “you go, babies. You walk your tired little butts right out of that stadium. I am with you in spirit and more!”
Nobody could be upset about this, I thought.
Just look at them!
No noise, no boos, no throwing their caps and ripping their gown whilst screaming “COME AT ME BRO, COME. AT. ME!!” to Pence as he nattered on, using this ceremony as his platform to talk up his boy Donnie and push his “sanctity of human life” agenda. None of the things that usually get people up in arms, at least. These are students at a Catholic college choosing to exercise their right to peaceful protest by walking out of their own ceremony. That’s it. And, from the video footage available, the majority of the students protesting appear to be queer, women, and/or people of color.
Surely no one could get too angry about this. Surely.
Alas, my naïvety got the better of me here. For just a few days later I see a link to an article in my Facebook feed titled: “AFTER ENTITLED LIBERALS WALK OUT ON PENCE, TEXAS COWBOY DESTROYS NOTRE DAME STUDENTS WITH 3 BRUTAL WORDS.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I should have kept on scrolling. I should have just started watching videos of dogs who can’t figure out stairs or checked in to see what George Takei has been up to lately.
I know, ya’ll.
But I just couldn’t. Every single word of it made my blood boil. And sometimes, as these Notre Dame graduates have shown, you’ve just got to take a stand. Even if it’s a digital one.
The absurdity of this article knows no bounds.
When he set off on his mission to “destroy” these “entitled liberals,” the author missed a few key things. Like the fact that these students walked out of their own college graduation ceremony. An event that, for most people, is one of the most important in their lives. They’ve worked hard for years in order to graduate from this prestigious university, and they felt so strongly about who was speaking that they decided to leave their own ceremony.They silently, and non-violently, expressed their disapproval with the speaker, Mike Pence, through a walk out. They used a walk out, an established social justice practice, which, according to Wikipedia, “is often interpreted as an exercise of the freedom of association while allowing the speaker to exercise the freedom of speech, albeit with a reduced audience in attendance.”
It’s also just a teensy bit ironic that this guy feels entitled to give us his patronizing, run-down, unoriginal opinion about what these students “deserve” because they chose to stand up for their beliefs in this way. It’s mind-boggling and ridiculous that the entire point of this article is to say that these students don’t deserve a job. That, for no other reason than exercising their right to protest peacefully, they should be denied their livelihoods and the chance to be positive, contributing members of society.
They didn’t have hurt feelings. That’s not what this is about. If that’s what it was about, if that’s all any of this was ever about, we’d all stay at home nursing our boo-boos. We’d sit down at our computers, hiding behind the veil of Facebook, and share articles with poor grammar and punctuation that do nothing more than poke fun at a group of graduating college students who felt compelled to make a stand.
We aren’t infants in need of a nap, we’re human beings in need of change. We aren’t whining. We’re protesting. We protest, because that’s what we’ve always done in the face of injustice. Young people are often fighting for a government, for a world, that works in service of the many — not the few. And there’s nothing entitled or self-serving about that. Rather than being met with distain and criticism, their aspirations should be praised for their selflessness.
We’re trying to make the world a little bit easier to exist in; a little bit lovelier. All we want is a world that’s a little kinder, a little gentler, a little easier to navigate, for everyone. Calling young, idealistic, and hardworking people entitled is just a way to try and silence us and invalidate our perspectives; to make us feel small and silly.
But it’s not going to work. It’s never worked.
In the words of the lovely, lyrical lord, David Bowie:
…these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through…
Yeah, we know what we’re going through.