Contributed by Eddie Ezelle
There seems to be major splits in how this word *entitlement  is used and misused. Working in a non-profit, I have heard and read many things, “It’s a scam set up by the Republicans, Libertarians, Democrats,” insert any name here and on and on.

As defined, entitlement is something you have put time, money or efforts into with an expectation of a return for yourself further down the road. For example, Social Security. We pay into it. It is not a government-funded program in the respect that it comes from government funds. You and your employer, by your work, pay into Social Security. You are “entitled” to it.

Welfare is provided by the government through everyone’s taxes, yours and mine, but is not promised to everyone who pays into it. It is therefore a “program providing benefits to members of a specified group” and is not an “entitlement” under the definitions from Webster. 

We choose to support one another as humans and provide compassion and help in whatever way we can.

Some have decided they can live off the kindness of strangers and circumvent the conventional idea of a day’s work for a day’s pay. Yes, we can all find exceptions to fit the rules, but generally people will grow to resent someone who does not at least attempt to provide for themselves or does not appear to be trying to lighten the burden of themselves or their fellow citizens.

We all contribute in some way. Most good, some not. But we must at least try to understand; walk in someone else’s shoes or find it in our hearts to forgive and give a helping hand where we can, however we can. Even just a kind word or a smile.

Folks working in the non-profit arena understand this a little better than most. We see it every day. We try to help every day. We here many stories, every day. We try to smile every day.  Often, we succeed, but you rarely hear about the successes. The focus falls on those few who try to abuse the kindness of others. It’s human nature. We all do it in some way. They dress different, don’t eat the same foods or just don’t fit what we each define as normal.
We need to shift the focus on those we do help and we can say, “Success!”

Lunch at the park

Lunch at the park

In my line of work, distributing food, it is hard to realize the differences we are making. I can only notice that they have not returned for more. Was it success? Did they move? Are they getting help somewhere else?

We can’t say. But, by not returning, we can only assume we have helped make a difference. Maybe they will someday return the favor and help someone else.

In the mean time, I continue to do food. I think we do it well in our niche and hope we are making a difference. That’s all any of us can expect. 

Help where you can, any way you can. Sharing a smile is a good start. 

The dream lives.
- Eddie

*As defined online by Webster using, “Define entitlement.”

Our Potato Fairy

Our Potato Fairy

Definition of ENTITLEMENT:
1a: the state or condition of being entitled:right
1b: a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also: funds supporting or distributed by such a program
3: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

Legal Definition of ENTITLEMENT:
1: the state or condition of being entitled: claim

  • evidence of victim's entitlement to money seized
  • - National Law Journal

2: a right to benefits that is granted especially by law or contract (as an insurance policy)
NOTE: Some courts have held that entitlements are a property interest and therefore subject to procedural due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution when denied by federal or state governments.
3: a government program that provides benefits to members of a group that has a statutory entitlement; also: the benefits distributed by such a program