Time Change/Gratitude or Entitlement

We changed the clocks again last week, going back to “standard” time.  I find any time change disruptive to my sleep patterns, sort of like the effects of jet lag, but it is hard not to feel a bit grateful for that “extra” hour each fall.   The more I think about it, however, I am not getting an extra hour, I am instead getting back the hour that was taken away the previous spring.  I am “entitled” to it.

As a minister, I know that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a healthy emotional and spiritual practice.  We are happier people when we take the time to appreciate the good things in our lives.  Counting our blessings really is better most of the time than complaining about what we don’t have.  It can give us hope and it diminishes the despair we might otherwise feel.  When someone has died, I usually say something at their memorial service about being grateful for their life.  We can be grateful for things we no longer have.

Some people, in our current excessively contentious political environment, like to complain about “entitlements.”  They call Social Security an “entitlement” even though it is a social insurance system that people have paid into.  It is kind of like that hour I put out in storage last spring in order to get back in the fall.

What are we entitled to?  Is it life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as it says in the Declaration of Independence? It is hard to stay alive if you are sick and don’t have health care.  It is hard to pursue happiness if you cannot marry the one you love or you fear being fired or evicted simply because who you are or who you love.

Positive change happens, I think, partly because people begin to feel entitled.  They feel worthy and deserving of freedom and justice.  Black teenagers know they deserve to walk the streets without fearing for their lives.  Immigrants know they have worked hard and been productive, so why aren’t they entitled to become citizens and stop living in fear of deportation?  Gay people have started feeling good about themselves and are no longer content with living in a closet.  We are all entitled to justice.

It is time to set the clocks forward to a future where we will all have life, liberty, and the freedom to pursue our own happiness.  I promise to be very grateful when that happens.






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