To err is human.
That statement is false. To be human is to err: correct. But to say that to err is human, is attributing errancy to human life. It is giving human beings an entitlement of errancy. We are entitled to nothing: not life, not death, not the air we breathe, not the food we eat. We possess nothing that has not been given to us. We do not deserve, cannot retain the right, and do not own anything; most often not even our own actions.
You’ve heard the saying, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion”. Again, we are entitled to nothing. The only thing that I can think of, and this will be ironic and also profound, but the only thing I think that humans can possess of their own accord, is thought. Thought can be stimulated by what other people do; thought can be spontaneously created; thought can be divinely or supernaturally given; thought can be intentionally pursued.
Thought is the only thing, that I can think of, that belongs to humans. True, we were given a brain. True, what other people do gives us inspiration for thought. However, the thoughts we think, we think. No one thinks them for us, and the outcome of those thoughts may lead to an opinion, but in and of themselves, thoughts are innocent actions that human beings are in possession of.
What we deserve and what we possess are different than what we are entitled to have. Human beings, because of sin, which is the result of the fall, are deserving of death, not entitled to death, but deserving of it. Human beings possess opinions, some of which they create, some of which they repeat as they have heard them, but they are not entitled to them. There’s a difference between deserving or feeling that something is owed to you simply because you exist, and actually being entitled to something.
The danger of entitlements is that if “to err is human“, we have an excuse for doing wrong. Imagine if no laws could be enforced because human nature forbade men from being punished because errancy was their right, their entitlement. We are not entitled to do wrong. We don’t have a monopoly on evil. We can’t avoid the consequences of our actions simply because we are entitled to some exemptionary status because our nature is to make mistakes.
Humans err, but not without consequences. Errancy doesn’t belong to us; if anything, we belong to it. Before you feel like you are entitled to something, consider the consequences of it. What does entitled mean, and what does it make you?
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist