I intentionally did not watch or listen to Tiger Wood’s ‘appearance’ the other day. I ignored it because I do think he needs to be all about apology, but not to me (or to you for that matter).

Then, the other day on the way to church I heard a radio commentator talking about how Tiger said he felt ‘entitled’ to do whatever he wanted to do. Wealth and fame justified (to him) his behavior.

Use of this word piqued my ire.

Entitled: verb, to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim: His executive position entitled him to certain courtesies rarely accorded others. (Webster).

Tiger said, to the effect, that his wealth and fame ‘entitled’ him to do what he wanted.

Some of you may remember that there has been a great deal of talk in politics lately about entitlements.  In that case, it is most often referring to services and payments which people may be eligible for.  The most important examples of entitlement programs at the federal level in the United States would include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, most Veterans’ Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs.   Most of the talk has been about a reduction in ‘entitlements.’

Specifically, there has been a lot of talk about reducing the ‘entitlements’ which the poor receive.  The basis of this talk has been the cost of such programs.  What is not discussed, openly, is the prevalence of a culture of entitlement that exists, not with the poor, but with the wealthy.

One colleague argues that this culture exists with white, upper class, males.  The only thing that seems to keep us in line is some sense of moral boundaries.  But I ask you where they are, or where they have gone?

Immanuel Kant, I believe offers the bedrock of philosophical guidance. Kant maintained that each of us has a worth or a dignity that must be respected. This dignity makes it wrong for others to abuse us or to use us against our will. Kant expressed this idea in a moral principle: humanity must always be treated as an end, not merely as a means. To treat a person as a mere means is to use a person to advance one’s own interest. But to treat a person as an end is to respect that person’s dignity by allowing each the freedom to choose for himself or herself.

My point in drilling down to Kant, is to demonstrate how far off course this behavior was.  What really bothers me about this isn’t Tiger.  But that this represents a culture of entitlement (and I am not talking about the poor) whose blurred moral boundaries have left us with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Finance scandal like Bernie Madoff and others.

I do not believe that those effected in these situations were treated as an ‘end’ in and of themselves, but rather as a ‘means’ to some end.

My faith makes this particularly disturbing to me.  Tiger is mistaken if he believes that he can do whatever he wants.  The only One who can do whatever they wish (Omnipotent) is God.  We are not autonomous beings, if God is the God we believe in.  So the real transgression here (oh, it so often comes down to this) is idolatry.  Unless you are a VERY strict Calvinist, even God gives us a great deal of latitude to choose faithfulness, to respect others, and honor God.

My wife always says, “What where they thinking” when she hears stories like this.  I suspect there wasn’t much thinking goin on.  It was more like action alone, as one of his sponsors used to say, “just do it.”

This situation is not only described well by reading Kant.  It seems to me that when I am listening to the Tiger saga, I am also listening to the David story.  It is not only the David and Bathsheba story, but the David and Uriah.  What is really pathetic is how our society plays out the David and Nathan.

Some people have said to me that I am a crabby cynic.  Perhaps.  Still, I think this whole saga is as much about self-deception and truth telling as it is about infidelity.  Tiger’s suggestion that he fell prey to a sense of ‘entitlement’ is really about him lying to himself.  Then, it is about self-deception and denial.

It is particularly sad that he was so far out of any real ‘community’ that there was no one nearby who could speak the truth in love to him, metaphorically if necessary.

The problem of privilege is not new here in the United States.  I am not surprised that the situation occured.  I am miffed that someone can blame it on fame and fortune; yet someone else has already warned us about this, The Apostle Paul 1Timothy 6:10.

Entitled?  Entitled?  I don’t think so.

Advertisements