| The definition of a citizen is a member of the body politic who grants an allegiance thereto in exchange for a guarantee of protection. As various Supreme Court decisions have made clear, however, there is no obligation on the part of the government to do anything.

Much is made of the claimed “social contract.” Often it seems that the claims made in regards to this contract are made by those who seek to make a claim upon others more than by those who seek to fulfill a duty such contract may compel. Can one compel generosity? I think not.

A contract consists of three elements: 1) an offer, 2) acceptance, and 3) consideration (it’s gotta be a two-way street). One party makes an offer, the second must accept the offer, and there must be value exchanged. To make someone “an offer he can’t refuse” is not a contract, it’s a demand, or more accurately, a threat.

Regardless of your level of generosity (or the generosity you think you have proffered) on your part, you have no claim against another or others if they have not accepted your offer and agreed to the consideration.

I would like to point out that the idea of entitlement is beset by the same core fallacy in thinking that citizenship is. There really can be no entitlement absent a contract, otherwise all you are doing is making a unilateral claim (threat) on another, or others. And much to the dismay of many, perhaps myself included, this applies across the board, even to such mundane things as courtesy and politeness. No one owes me anything. At least not until he and I have had the mutual respect of sitting down and discussing the mutually beneficial terms of our relationship. Not even courtesy.

The point of this is that regardless of what a wonderful person I think I am being, and the generosity I believe I have bestowed, I am owed nothing in return. Nothing . . . in return.

But! (I think I may hear some of you gasping in horror.) Well, look at it from your own perspective. Do you want to be obligated to someone who does what they think is a goodness to you, regardless of whether or not you want that “goodness”? Unspoken expectations are perhaps the greatest cause of the failure of personal relationships. Certainly you wouldn’t want to codify into law an obligation for you to reciprocate everything that anyone else might think you owe them, would you?

The sad fact is that we each must be responsible for clarifying our terms. And the hard part in this is that that requires understanding our own expectations and desires first before we can even begin to try and put them into a form that may be acceptable to the reciprocating party or parties. That may be the issue right there. As children, our needs are fulfilled without our even knowing what they are. It’s a bitch having to actually take responsibility for ourselves. But there you have it. It is the responsibility of each one of us to, first, know what it is that we want, and then second to try and find something of value we can offer in exchange to others so that they may feel inclined to want to reciprocate with us. Anything less is juvenile, animalistic survival of the fittest. It is not society.

So the next time that you have a sense of a betrayal of your expectations–your “entitlements“–you may want to pause and reflect upon what consideration you have given others and whether you’ve openly expressed your desire for a reciprocation, and then gotten their acceptance of your offer. You would like the same consideration from them, wouldn’t you?

Karma.   Remember Karma? It’s a song about Karma! (Hat tip to Arlo Guthrie.)

By NonEntity