I admit that as a dairy farmer, more than once, I have entertained the idea that I should have the “right” to farm the way I want. I own the land, so I should be able to do what I want with it, right? And they are “my” cattle, so I should be able to raise them how I see fit, and not have to listen to what other people think I should do with them. And shouldn’t I have the same “rights” with everything else I own, because I paid for them?
As I get older, experience, and the wisdom that sometimes (I wish that I could say always) follows my experience, has challenged my thinking regarding my rights verses my privileges. Our thinking is very important because it is the foundation of all our current and future, beliefs, words, and actions. Observe a person’s thinking and you will see their future.
I have come to realize that it really doesn’t matter how much I paid for that land, or how much legal documentation I have, to try and prove that it is mine, those acres really do not belong to me. It really doesn’t matter if the value of that land is a hundred dollars, or a hundred million dollars, it will all be taken from me. Regardless of who my attorney is, I will lose every inch of that land at some point in my life. And that is true for all people, and all belongings. Most of us will lose those “things”, when leaving this earth, but some will lose them even before that unfortunate time, for various reasons.
At this point in my life, my thinking has changed to embrace the idea of privilege, rather than one of entitlement. I now see myself as having the privilege to be the current caretaker of everything that I have, rather than thinking I have a right to them, simply because I paid for them. Seeing those things as a privilege rather than a right, changes how I think about them. I now think less about my rights or what I am entitled to, and more about how thankful I should be to have the “privilege” to be a steward over those things. My thankfulness and privilege mindset causes me to be less defensive when people challenge what I do, or why I do things a certain way, and more open to share my thankfulness instead.
I have found that this, right verses privilege, concept applies everywhere in our lives, including the extremely important area of relationships. For example, there are really few, if any, rights regarding our children. Just because they have our DNA, certain genes, habits, or likenesses, does not really mean that they are really ours. Like everything else in our lives that we are unable to take with us forever, we are simply caretakers for our children. It is not a right to have children, it is one of the biggest privileges we will ever have. And if we truly see our role as a parent, being a privilege, rather than a right, it should also create more thankfulness for the opportunity, that not everyone will share in.
The same is true for marriages, and really all other relationships, they are privileges not rights, and should be treated that way. Often, we don’t become thankful for things until they exit our lives. Seeing all people that are in our lives as a tremendous privilege, will help us value them, and be more thankful for those people now, rather than having to wait for a funeral. I believe that we don’t have a right, to any person currently in our life, and that we should see every person, as a privilege that will not be here forever.
Millennials are currently get a bad rap for being the entitlement generation. It may be that their view of entitlement is different than the rest of us, but I believe all of us could benefit from reviewing our thinking regarding right versus privilege.