Feb 18 , 2021
The word "privilege" is prevalent these days in the media and on the streets. Defined as “having special rights, advantages, or immunities," this word is different from another, but similar term that floats through my mind and enters conversations regularly these days as well: Entitlement.
What is entitlement? Defined as “believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment," entitlement is a belief, while not exactly the holding of particular privileges. It can be argued, and in fact is, by Leah Guzman on Quora, that "entitlement" can have positive or negative connotations, depending on attitude.
My little brother and I had a conversation a couple days ago in which he lamented that too many people these days exhibit an attitude of entitlement, or the belief that the world owes them something. This is a distinctly different attitude than that associated with the belief that we all should have certain rights- a sense of fairness. Whether achieved through equality, in which the playing field is level for all, regardless of needs, or equity, in which people are treated differently depending on need, the inference is on that everyone should have certain rights- it's more a matter of what those rights should be that gets complicated.
Rights and privileges are different. We all have a right to take a driver exam and pass and get our license, which gives us the privilege to drive legally, for instance.
What does this have to do with gluten free?
Once while sampling our desserts and talking with attendees at a gluten free expo, someone asked if we were available in such-and-such store. (This happens often!) My answer was, "We are working on expanding our reach. If there is a store where you shop, and you would like our desserts to be available there, please let your store manager know." (I know I've told this story before. You probably know what happened next, if you have followed our blog or know me.) The person with whom I was speaking asked then, "You want me to do your job for you?" With a certain tone of voice that really said, "I shouldn't have to ask my store manager for anything. You should just take care of that for me."
Let me back up and clarify, lest you think I am stereotyping anyone with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or food allergies. I am not. This particular exchange stands out in my memory because it is not the usual exchange- though it has happened more than once- not because people with celiac disease are jerks, but because some people in the world feel entitled.
Sometimes when we feel down, oppressed, treated unfairly, whether or not how we are treated is within our control, we become disgruntled. "It's not fair that my brother and sister both were given houses by their in-laws and I have to rent. I work hard. I deserve a house." Sure, and I can go out and save up a down payment and buy one- or not. That is different from "everyone should have the right to have a roof over their head." And this is a topic that on occasion has hit home for me, and made me disgruntled, I admit. Dang, I wish someone would give me a house so all I had to worry about was the annual property taxes. I do mean DANG! But no one has, and I'll keep on renting for now because housing prices are outrageous. (Different topic we can cover. Again, if you know me, I bet you know housing and homelessness are topics very close to my heart.)
Back to the gluten free expo. Who knows why that person was feeling entitled? Most people there were just feeling grateful to be able to sample food they didn't have to be worried about eating, and bring home free samples, and learn about their condition and diet and options for coping and living better.
I wish it weren't more challenging for people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and food allergies to find good food options that are affordable than it is for people who can eat anything they like. But it's a fact of life. We can work on leveling the playing field. Who knows how long that may take? And we all have a choice:
Either sit back and expect someone else to make it happen because we believe the world owes us, or just to roll up our sleeves and learn and work together to make things better for us all.
With continued commitment to you and your diet,
Lisa Cox is CEO/ SVP Sales& Marketing at Gem City Fine Foods. She has a bleeding heart combined with a low tolerance for attitudes of entitlement, and her views are her own, and not necessarily reflective of the rest of the team.