" Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. "
President John F. Kennedy
For me it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. On behalf of two inmates from Kentucky on death row, this week Washington attorney, Donald Verilli, argued before the US Supreme Court that death by lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment if the injection is improperly administered. Such improper administration of the three drug procedure can result in excruciating pain for the prisoner, he asserted.
Commenting on the case, a Rutgers law student notes we should be allowed to die with dignity. We are entitled in other words to die with dignity. I am with Dr. Gregory House (TV Show-"House") on this one. There is pretty much nothing dignified about death. Under the best of circumstances death can be painful, harsh, humiliating and undignified. Did these murderers feel any obligation to commit dignified, pain free murders? The best way to avoid a painful execution is not to murder anyone. How does some unattainable goal transform into an entitlement?
NJ has just eliminated the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without parole. Do you hear what I hear? I hear the phantom voice of the “lifer” who says he is entitled to a violence free prison.
Then there is the case of the outsourced wombs. http://warner.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/03/outsourced-wombs/
Some Americans are using Indian women to bear their children for a fee. In America, which has made childbearing a market product, we have the sense that because we want children we are entitled to them. Some have the audacity to argue that outsourcing their pregnancy is a way to help these less fortunate women financially. Really? Make a donation. Support the Grameen Bank if you are inclined to help less fortunate women financially. Don’t prostitute them to the risky business of child bearing. On the flip side, being masters of their bodies entitles women to get rid of children that they no longer want to bear. Women may be masters of their own bodies but it does not follow from that that women are the masters of the body they carry. How does what we want become something we are entitled to?
Our American sense of entitlement spills across the border. The influx of Hispanics, a virtual weaponless invasion of sorts, brings with it a new attitude. One not seen in previous immigrants. Some of these folks see no problem with arriving here illegally and partaking of the benefits Americans work hard hours to accrue. They are entitled. They do lot like being reminded they broke the law of the land. What have they done wrong by entering America at will? Why is someone entitled to what another has just because he wants or even needs it?
Our current administration is entitled to disregard international conventions and circumnavigate the Constitution to conduct business as it sees fit. NJ lawmakers in Trenton are entitled to tax further our tattered state coffers with double dipping, pay to play. After all because they have the power, they are entitled to that money. How does the opportunity to serve entitle lawmakers to pilfer and pillage the law and the people’s resources?
Striving to be free of religious, racial and sexual persecution, so much of America is about opportunity. America dreamed of giving those huddled masses yearning to breathe free a hope that without the deck stacked against them through their own labor they could have a shot at a decent life. America never promised anyone a rose garden. It offers the chance of hope through sweat and toil and observing the rules of basic human decency. America promises nothing more. Somehow through its magnificent success, this land of opportunity has evolved into a country inhabited by a people with a sense of never-ending entitlement. Will America break from the strain of the insatiable entitlements we the people are placing on its shoulders?
(The above Links are offered to expand on the ideas mentioned in the paragraphs preceding them. Please feel free to visit them for a fuller understanding of my points.)