Egocentricity and Entitlement
Egocentricity and entitlement go hand in hand. They’re natural characteristics to possess early in life. But as we mature, especially as we develop in character, we hopefully outgrow these tendencies. Most of us come to appreciate that there’s a vast world outside ourselves. And we come to appreciate that we have a relationship with that world. Now, exactly how we mindfully structure that relationship largely defines our character. And healthy character begins with the realization that as much as a part of us might want it to be otherwise, life is definitely not all about us.
Coming to appreciate that it’s not all about us is just the beginning. Growing in character also demands that we come to appreciate all that we have, especially the gift of life itself. Now, this can be a most daunting challenge for some. Abuse, neglect, trauma, etc., are far too prevalent realities for too many of us growing up. And when that happens, life doesn’t seem like much of a wonderous gift. So, it’s hard to feel grateful for much. That’s why it behooves us all to work to alleviate suffering. Grateful people are naturally generous. And they build vibrant, cohesive communities. Everyone benefits when our environments are free from egocentricity and entitlement.
Character Has Always Been the Issue
In some ways, there’s nothing new under the sun. Being human, we all have our shortcomings. And seriously nefarious characters doing dastardly things have always been among us. Accordingly, we’ve always had our various social problems, some of them serious. But the remedies simply can’t be found in the those things in which we have traditionally placed our faith. History teaches that we stubbornly believe the answers lie in power, punishment, rules, structure, etc. But history also attests to the fact that our steadfast allegiance to these things has gotten us nowhere.
Sages througout the ages have tried to point us in the right direction. They tell us not only where to look for solutions but also how to truly transform things. But we tend not to listen. And we definitely tend not to take the wisdom of the ages seriously. Why? In part, because a culture of egocentricity and entitlement is so prevalent, reinforcing our infantile attitudes. But also, in part because a self-serving ego seems so essential to surviving and thriving in this character disordered world of ours.
What’s different about the world today is that we’ve largely lost a sense of what matters most to our welfare: character. We don’t really expect it anymore, and we don’t devote the time, energy, and attention to developing it than we have in various times past. And we’re paying a very dear price for this. Still, we keep placing our faith in what hasn’t – and in what truly cannot – solve our social and relational ills. And as usual, the culprit is malformed ego – vain, prideful, stubborn, faithless ego. Trusting in the power of character development – beginning with our own – can truly change the world. All my books emphasize this. And I’ll have more to say about the topic in some upcoming posts as well as on my Character Matters program.