DO OUR FELLOW Americans have unrealistic expectations? Do you sense our stature, reputation, prestige and culture are in decline? Is America’s obsession with indiscriminate affirmation a sign of a healthy country?

Some people quibble that praising everyone in exactly the same terms makes saints and monsters morally equal. Does even the worst person in the country deserve the most reliable 5G network?

The thoughts in this week’s column are inspired by a column by Crispin Sartwell. He teaches philosophy at Dickinson College. His column appeared in September in the Wall Street Journal. It was titled “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”

We are constantly being told we deserve or are entitled to just about everything just because we are Americans. Many of our fellow Americans even believe we don’t even need to be an American to deserve all of life’s pleasures and treasures.

For example, we’re entitled to affordable health care, high-speed internet access, the means to retire with dignity, paid work leave whenever we deem it necessary, an income high enough to live a great life, a quality education, a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood with supportive people next door, and a perfect water and sewer infrastructure system.

We deserve answers when we want them, accountability, respect and the truth. We deserve better than what we have, because we are Americans. All of us deserve solace and compassion. We are entitled to empathy, understanding, a sense of community, love, reciprocity and liberation.

Sartwell is concerned that if most people believe they already deserve these good things, they might stop trying to improve. They will lose their drive and motivation. Would you become worthier or more deserving of rewards than you are right now if you stopped trying to better yourself?

If we already deserve all good things, and you do, too, our entitlements might conflict with each other. If we are all equally deserving, how can we make the distribution of limited resources? I’m confused. What does it say about me if I believe I’m worth it, but I know others who haven’t earned luxuries?

Knowing I deserve all good things puts me in a state of anxiety, wrote Sartwell. What about all the wrong things I’ve done, all the people I’ve betrayed, all the bad decisions I’ve reached? I’ve probably done bad things that I’ve forgotten or of which I wasn’t fully aware I did.

What if I feel guilty about having so much? We are told we deserve a full measure of happiness. What would it be like to never be penalized or feel the satisfaction of accomplishment?



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HERE ARE four observations for you to think about that I found interesting.

Regardless of your current age, did you ever consider the possibility that your very best friend might be someone you haven’t met yet? Be alert, it might be someone you meet this week.

If medical innovations and research continue at the current pace, you could spend one-half your life more than the age of 50. That could be good news if you enjoy good health or it could mean many years in assisted living.

Innoviz Technologies, a company working on autonomous vehicles, asked “Human error causes more than 20 million car accidents each year and you’re worried about cars driving themselves?”

Do you agree with this thought? For most people, losing something is far more painful than the pleasure of gaining something of equivalent value.