Corey is an LDS artist, and we’re proud to present the following guest post by him:

When and how do we sense that we are entitled to things? Does it depend upon our “class,” our intelligence, or just our family background? Should we be working to avoid this sense of entitlement, or do we just need to find a balance?

I recently attended/worked an art auction in which the admission price was $275 per person. To some people this might not seem like a lot of money; but to a recent post graduate I was thinking of many different ways in which I could spend that admission price. (To anyone who lives in New York City, you can understand that $275 doesn’t go very far!) As I worked the event I noticed a demeanor about the crowd and a sense that they “deserved” certain things. Whether it was special treatment, or an opportunity to go through red tape in order to bid or take art pieces home, they felt that they were above the law. I do not want to say that everyone was like that, but I was surprised by how many did act this way. There were obviously people who had a lot of money, whether they were celebrities or folks of “high privilege” it seemed difficult to distinguish. I went home quite frustrated with the fact that many of these people felt and acted as if they were above the law.

Obviously we can find many examples of this behavior. Unfortunately, many of our government officials or high positioned corporate owners tend to believe they are above the law as well. But, the argument also follows those who are not in positions of power or exceeding wealth. I have come across many lower class individuals who feel they are entitled to certain things as well. This especially includes people who are on welfare. Not everyone abuses the system, but when some individuals receive a handout they become dependent upon that handout and feel it is their right to continue to receive such.

I have been fortunate enough to have been taught a good work ethic, and to be honest in my work. However, I have found it difficult to draw the line as to when I am entitled to something and when I may not be entitled. This issue is magnified immensely within the art world. I have worked countless hours going through training and schooling in order to hone my skills. But I have also stood with amazement and frustration in many art galleries as I view work that includes pieces with a single pen mark, or brush stroke, that sell for thousands upon thousands of dollars. I try to avoid judging such work in that I do not know the process the artist took or may not understand what they are communicating in their work; but I can’t help but look on in disgust.

I have tried to research the topic of entitlement and have found little success. I came across a quote by Neal A. Maxwell which I feel sheds light on one of the roots of this problem in regards to upbringing. He says: “A few of our wonderful youth and young adults in the Church are unstretched. They have almost a free pass. Perks are provided, including cars complete with fuel and insurance—all paid for by parents who sometimes listen in vain for a few courteous and appreciative words. What is thus taken for granted … tends to underwrite selfishness and a sense of entitlement.” (BYU Devotional 12 Jan ’99)

I am not sure if there is a clear answer in regards to the questions posed. Because so many of us have come from different backgrounds and walks of life, there may not be a right or wrong answer. As a member of the church, I know the promises afforded to all of us regardless of our stage in life or accomplishments, and I am grateful for such knowledge. Maybe the balance lies in my own realm of making sure I treat everyone with equality and respect, whether they are entitled to it or not.