I have a bizarre news feed. I am a veteran, and I have a whole lot of my circle of friends who are veterans as well, so from them I receive a whole lot of more conservative stuff, and given the knee jerk reaction to whining, a lot of it is pretty edgy or down right savage.
I am a Heathen, and active in the pan pagan community, an active proponent of Inclusive Heathenry which puts me in direct opposition to the sort of racist homophobic misogynist assholes whom everyone agrees make legitimate targets if they are in ISIS but which acquire an odd social immunity if they are white, rich and Christian. From this side of my feed comes a lot more liberal stuff, and some outright SJW weirdness.
You would think it odd that I can have friends on both sides of the spectrum, but what makes them friends and held in esteem by me is what they share. A sense of responsibility, a sense of duty, a sense of obligation. It is not enough for them to believe, they must act on those beliefs. It is not enough to receive a freedom or a right, it is required that you demonstrate your worth to hold it, to make the sacrifices that went into winning it, and defending it, worthwhile. HOW they express it, and what it is they are most driven by is different. Their individual expression of it may even place them in opposition, but I honour them equally, and where both of these groups agree on anything, you can take as holy writ that defines the good of the whole people. That does leave a ton of public policy up for debate, we call that freedom, and it allows our society to evolve alone with us. Evolve or die, and the latter is a bad choice.
I witnessed a frenzy around the US independence day from the fringes of both sides of my feed. I almost missed it. The middle ground of my feed was taken up by genuine messages of hope and solidarity, and the medium fringe by an amazing “Second Civil War” letters parody spawned by some right wing nut’s spurious claim of a leftist coup planned on Independence Day. Get real, no one plans any minivan and Prius based revolution on the one day you couldn’t get through traffic with anything under a full panzer.
The center is filled with those who possess a sense of humour and a sense of responsibility both. The fringes of both sides have exactly three things in common, and the third one was the surprise.
They are purists, there is absolutely no middle ground. You are either 110% behind them, knowing they are oblivious to the fact there is no possibility of exceeding 100%, being by definition, all of it, or you are an enemy. Either a traitor (meaning claim to be on my side, but not willing to deep fry the enemies two year olds), or an enemy (who have no rights to life, property, law, opinion, or self defense).
They are utterly without any sense of humour, self awareness, critical thinking, or any willingness to examine even for one instant any evidence that may not agree with their philosophical allegiance ( I will not call a thing derived without thought as a philosophy).
They are driven by both a sense of entitlement, and a threat to that entitlement.
Entitlement. Both the far right and far left are driven by the sense that they are owed the total and complete breadth of their fantasy based on their simple existence; independent of any action, any accomplishment, and sacrifice or effort on their part, not based on merit or achievement, they are owed by the world complete obedience to their own bizarre little world view, and sense of self importance. Those who do not see them as fundamentally the key person on the planet simply by the amazingness of being born a person of no detectable accomplishment, demonstrated virtue, history of service, or sacrifice for anything but their own immediate gratification, must be the foulest fiends in history.
When this leaped out at me I was stunned, I was shocked, I was in danger of a spit take on my poor computer screen. Firstly, how the hell did I miss this for so long. Secondly, why isn’t anyone on the right or the left grabbing hold of these very public leaders of their movement and going “Whoa there buddy, you strayed out of your lane, left rational and went full fuckwad. Stop talking before our very real concerns drown in your sea of stupid.”
Second, I know from first hand experience what you are entitled to. I have seen it, I have tried my best to stave it off when it came out of time, and many times succeeded. I have seen it come in its time when all the efforts and arts of mankind could not stop it. I have brought it with my own hands when it was my duty to do so. Not a whole lot of people are in a hurry to get what they are entitled to.
You are entitled by your conception to exactly one thing on this earth. Your death. Many times this death comes before the opportunity to live at all, as your death arrives before your birth. Those who succeed in being born share this one truth sucked at the teat, you are entitled to at least one death. Sometimes we can bring you back, but don’t worry, death is always waiting. She is the unbroken promise, the period at the end of your sentence, the silence at the end of your song. She is what you are entitled to. I take it as a grace and blessing, but there is a chance I have seen enough more of life than some of you to fear death less. The true horrors are experienced on this side of the grave.
Hel awaits all of us. Death is the one thing we are entitled to. Yet entitlement drives the far left and far right. Why?
Entitlement is the father of hatred.
Trust the gods to supply the missing piece. That little whisper was the penny that had to drop. Entitlement is the father of hatred. Those who feel they owe responsibilities to deserve the rights they have been granted by those who fought long and hard to enshrine them in law, and defend them from infringement, understand that their freedoms come with responsibilities and consequences. They accept the premise that my right to swing my fist ends before your jaw, not after it.
The entitled do not.
The entitled do not accept that their rights have responsibilities, corollaries, or that their possession of a right in society in any way implies others might have rights; not if they are different.
If you are responsible, you accept that freedoms, rights, and everything you hold in this life comes from effort. None of what you hold is yours by your own efforts alone, for it has taken our whole people and society to create a place where our own efforts can win for us individually such safety and success as we know. It took generations of effort and sacrifice long before you were born, took the efforts of countless more than you could ever thank for their efforts. You did not inherit this because you are awesome and deserve it, you inherit this because other people built their personal worth through effort, dedication, discipline, hardship and struggle. Now it is up to you to show you deserve it, and make sure those that follow after inherit more, and not less of the freedom and opportunity you inherited.
If you are entitled the world looks differently. Anyone other than you who claims the right that you do is threatening the basis of your entitlement. They are threatening the foundation of your worth and existence. You are not special because of your deeds, your words, your sacrifices, service, creations, or relationships, you are only special because of your (insert whatever bullshit label drives your fantasy of being the centerpiece in the story of the world, in which all other people are but bit players to your star).
You cannot remain special if those dirty homosexuals can be married too! Got to wonder how that one works, I mean, how is the couple two doors down having the same sex married that they did the night before as single going to change your own marriage. If it can, you have got an issue, not a marriage.
You can’t remain special if that person looking at you in a dress gets your personal pronoun wrong and assumes your gender is female. Your gender and sexual identity are your own, and if you are threatened by someone who only understands the two biological genders they understand, and making a good faith effort to treat you respectfully as member of the gender they assumed you were, then you don’t have a gender, you have an insecurity. If they deliberately continue to misgender you, they really are being an asshole, but don’t go assuming every person out there is attacking you when they are trying to be polite.
You can’t remain special if someone can be different than you and not only completely miserable because they are not you, and completely open to agreeing that they are no where near as special as you.
Strip away the different coding for the right and left wing nuts, take away the racial, religious, and gender language, and it all boils down to the same thing. I am entitled, and your having worth you earned makes me feel bad, feel like my entitlement might be taken away at any moment.
I am a violent person, so I tend to look at violence as a measure of just about everything. I am not condoning violence, or advocating violence, but I will say that a large portion of my life, and my formative years were definitely shaped by it, as was much of the history of this planet, so I will always tend to look at issues in the social and political spectrum and see how this translates into expressions of violence.
Violence as a measure of entitlement is an interesting thing. It works.
If you look at who is the most prone to violence, it is the ones with the most developed sense of entitlement. The Antifa thugs really are drawn from among the special snowflakes of legend who really do feel entitled because of their membership in the hyphen club as the most hyphenatedly hyphened super yoga non gluten recycled tibetan hyphen rasta that ever hyphened a mens menstration. All the conservatives are now laughing, yes these are the ones most prone to start, and then lose a riot.
Time to stop laughing now.
The most entitled and most violent group out there are straight white conservative men. I am one, so yes I am saying the statistics don’t lie, we are far more likely to kill anyone who threatens our sense of entitlement than any other group.
Muslim extremists in their own lands occupy the same position that straight white men do here, and with a far greater legal and social freedom to enact the worst abuses of the patriarchy that feminists are always going on about. Here is the thing, we may laugh at feminists now, much as we laugh at unions, but like unions, we would not recognize our society without the changes they forced it to undergo. The abuses were real, were terrible, were soul fouling for those who did it, and life destroying for those under it, and those abuses are the daily life of a huge portion of the globe, so stop laughing at the feminists, stop mocking the unions and start saying thank you that you don’t live, yet, in a third world shit hole run by entitled abusers empowered by the law.
You live in a country that is run by entitled abusers restrained by the law. I grant you it is not what we should inherit, but it is better than the alternative, and a starting point to build on.
Those manly men of “The Great Generation” of WWII that the conservative right is venerating now as moral gods, mostly because they are safely mostly dead and unable to correct anyone, actually earned their status. Largely by risking, and by the hundreds of thousands offering their lives in the defense of the state that really should remember to be worthy of them. At the same time, women stepped up into the roles men had traditionally played in the workplace because the reality of technology had long made our traditional roles not a necessity but a luxury our survival could not afford. Be worthy, or be history. That generation chose to be worthy, to accept uncomfortable change, to rise to be greater, to demand more of each and every one of its sons and daughters, and by all the gods they rose to that challenge and earned the title of Greatest Generation. They really did.
The problem with the conservatives holding up the Greatest Generation as their example is my grandfather, himself a product of that generation almost to a stereotype, would be quite likely to put the fist that was once the 2nd Divisional boxing champion from his days in the Grenadier Guards through the chin of any man openly insulting a woman. The language, the open disrespect and pettiness that is the hallmark of those praising that Greatest generation was not acceptable to those who ever earned its merit on the beaches, or hard city fighting of the bloodiest of all wars. It was common however among those who stayed home herding our own citizens into internment camps, as it was those condemning their neighbors during the McCarthy era. Not the language of our greatest generation at all, but that of our greatest shame. Again, entitlement’s face, not worth, merit or achievement.
The most entitled in our society are the greatest threat to it. It is ironic that Right Wing extremist supporters are always pointing to the Muslim fundamentalist men and condemning them as a great threat to our society, and especially its women. They are right. They are blind to the fact that the only threat as great to those women is those very men themselves. Muslim extremists do commit atrocities, not as frequently and well as white men because in our society, the top entitled and threatened assholes are mostly white. It is that combination of entitled and threatened that combines into deadly violence. Granted Islamic fundies fall into this category, but Christian fundies, Incells, white supremacists, tin foil hat Illuminati/Deep State conspiracy freaks all fall into this category, and they have the numbers, guns and complete contempt for the lives of everyone not in their special class to really make the numbers of dead start to resemble an active war zone.
We are all entitled only to this, to one death. What right our society enshrines for us were earned by the sacrifice of great men and women of the past, defended by great men and women of today. Be worthy of what you have already inherited, be thankful for the choices you have and try to make those worth the cost other people paid so you could make them.
When you hear someone from your own end of the political spectrum get up and begin demonizing anyone who disagrees, decide right then and there if you are entitled to what you have simply because you were born, or did you on some level have to be worthy of what you have been given. If you have any responsibility at all for the rights you have earned, stand up then and there, and demand that your own side accept that you can disagree and still be a worthy citizen. Accept and acknowledge that all of our rights to swing our fist end before another’s chin. We absolutely do not ever have to suffer the violence of another, but the corollary to that is that we cannot be worthy of that right while we stand by and let those among our allies swing their metaphorical or physical fists without that same restraint.