Extra-large entitlement.

Okay, I wrote this blog awhile ago so it is a little "out of date." However, I was keeping it behind the scenes because I submitted it to the Mennonite World Review. You can find the very edited version of it here. Even though it's been awhile, I wanted to still post it up here because 1. it took awhile to write and 2. the MWR took out my Colbert Report references and clip (which is the whole reason I was motivated to blog about this issue). Even though it's a few weeks in coming, here it is. 


When did we start believing that freedom comes in a 32oz cup?

I had flung myself down on the couch last Friday night, mindless flipping through episodes of The Colbert Report when I saw this clip. In summary, NYC's Mayor Bloomberg is purposing to ban large sugary drinks.

As someone who avoids High Fructose Corn Syrup like the plague that it is, I wanted to stand up and applaud Bloomberg's efforts. (True, it is not the source of the obesity problem, but at least he's trying something). Yet, while I watched that particular clip the only thing that really ran through my mine was, "wow, people are really going to freak out."

It hasn't happened yet, but it's in the works. Still with Bloomberg dedication to public health, smaller drink sizes could be a reality for the population of New York City relativity soon. Bloomberg has successfully banned public smoking, the use of trans-fats in restaurants, and has made it a requirement for restaurants to display their health code grade for the public eye. (Read more here).

True to the nature of getting information from entertainment sources, I am a little late in hearing about this. Regardless, it has gotten me thinking about this tricky thing called entitlement. As Americans, we carry around a deeply rooted sense of entitlement. America is the land of the free. So, if I want to drown myself with Coca-Cola, I should be able to do that, right?

My own sense of entitlement might not appear in the "Route 99" version from Sonic, but it does pop up whenever I least expect it. As a Christian, it often catches me off guard and causes me to stop and think. In this perspective, suddenly any sense of "entitlement" I might carry around starts to feel like a burden. It keeps me from seeing the needs of others. It makes me selfish, putting myself ahead of my need to be in healthy community with those around me. It also turns me into a terrible grump.

A few years ago, I spent some time living in South Africa. One of those minor cultural differences that still sticks out to me yet today were the portion sizes. I remember being amazed at the size of an ice cream cup I bought for what felt like "a lot" of money. The small was really small! I felt a little ripped off. True to my American mindset, I wanted to stretch that money as far as it could possibly go. "All that money" for one baby ice cream?

Dumb, right? But there it is. I needed a little perspective. I still do. I constantly need to remind myself about what it means to have enough. How do I express that in my daily life? Can I learn to be content, even when someone hands me a very small cup of ice cream?

Entitlement causes me to seek out the "good life" instead of the abundant life. But it's the abundant life that I crave. So why do I let things like sizes of beverages get in the way of that? If reevaluating portion sizes helps me to understand the beauty of enough, than so be it. After all, are overly large potions of food and drink improving my quality of life? Or am I so used to demanding everything (whether consciously or not) that any thing less feels like a threat to my way of life? In the current shape our planet is in, I know is a dangerous way to live. It is not who Christ has called me to be.

It should be interesting to see if Bloomberg's ban goes into place and how people response to it. Moreover, if potion control policies and sugar-bans start to become the norm, it will be interesting how I respond to it. Will I become defensive? Or will I see it as an opportunity to silence my entitled self and practice the art of knowing what is enough? I truly hope it is the latter.