This is the second in the series of my reflections on the “shifts of being” proposed by Jem Bendell in Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos (UK/USA 2021).
The word “entitlement” did not enter my vocabulary until I arrived here in the United States. In Guyana, we used the word “spoilt/spoiled” to describe other kids and youth our age who believed that they deserved the biggest and the best of everything, and that the rules of good conduct did not apply to them. In Brazil, the Portuguese equivalent of entitlement translates as “to have the right of or as deserving of.” In Brazilian vernacular, the spoiled or entitled rich kid earns the label of “daddy’s son or daughter.” Entitlement takes on additional manifestations among white, rich, and male humans in the advanced rich economies: the right to the pursuit of happiness; the right not to feel emotional pain and suffering; the right to have one’s feelings heard and validated; and the right to have one’s basic needs met (Jem Bendell, pp. 125-127).
It would be great if we could all have our basic needs met and have a voice in issues that affect and govern our lives. Instead, the entitled few among us take a far greater share of Earth’s natural resources and offer little return for our collective human production. They also hold the power to silence our voices when we cry out against the extreme inequality and injustice. While the entitled rich and powerful get away with major crimes—including our current threat of omnicide—minority and poor populations face draconian punishment, even death, for simple infractions of the law.Continue reading