It’s been decades in the making, but I strongly believe, the ever-present sense of entitlement, coupled with mediocrity, will cause my generation great pain and misfortune in the near future. The culture of dependency, once an undercurrent, has found its way to the surface, and every other person appears to be drenched. Now, many of us rely on others, consciously or unconsciously, to fulfil our needs, and we have somehow been sold on the idea that they are obligated to do so.
I find it both alarming and unfortunate how far and how quickly we have shifted from: “What can I do for my neighbour”, to: “What can my neighbour, my parents, my family living overseas, my ‘parl rep’ and my government give to me,” and “ just how many times can I dip into their resources to further my own interest before everything is depleted?”
I’m no economist or sociologist. Yet, my limited knowledge tells me this is a dangerous trend. Many Dominicans have worryingly, highly unreasonable expectations about what they feel entitled to, which significantly diminishes the motivation to fend for themselves. The reliance on handouts continues to breed the entitlement and that totally discourages people from working and doing better for themselves. In turn, mediocrity worsens, and the dependence deepens. It’s a destructive cycle that apparently, many are comfortable with. Now everybody thinks they deserve a ‘cool out’ and they’re arrogant about it.
The reality is many of us are capable of taking care of ourselves and making meaningful contributions to our families without the crutch of outside help. The truth is not many are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, live within their means or just do the work to support themselves. And there really is no one person or institution to blame. However, families play a huge role in enabling this attitude.
From what I’ve learnt, compulsive dependency often develops from over-indulgence in childhood, where children are spoilt by parents and never had to fend for themselves, or from extreme deprivation where children are grossly neglected and lacked basic parental care. As adults, those who overindulged would feel entitled to be taken care of because that is what they were used to, and the neglected and deprived would feel entitled to compensation for the unjust deprivation they had to endure. What this shows is more of us share the responsibility of perpetuating the culture of dependency than we would openly admit.
Ultimately, there is no doubt that some families, especially those living in absolute poverty, do not have the means to fend for themselves, and they need help to survive. But everyone fishing for assistance isn’t necessarily needy and are just following the trend because it’s socially accepted. Be that as it may, just because something has been allowed doesn’t mean it should continue. There is an urgent need to find a suitable balance between healthy dependence and personal independence, and I anticipate when we decide to change the culture … it will be an uphill battle.
A version of this article entitled 'The Truth About Dependency' was originally published in the Chronicle Newspaper on 19 July 2019