I have privilege. Lots of it. Some of it’s my making (working hard to be the first/only person in my family with a university education). Some of it’s by pure luck ‘o the draw (being born white and in Canada).
Privilege affects how I see the world. And as you know I’m all about how we see the world. Where our perspective lights the way and where it keeps us in the dark.
My good friend Danielle LaPorte, yes that Danielle LaPorte of whitehot truth fame (that’s her above), wrote a post recently that caught my eye and which, with her permission, I’ve reposted below. (You can see the original here.)
If you’re reading this, the highest probability is that you are living in the western world, above the poverty line, in a democratic environment.
Your heart may be broken, you may not have enough money to get to the end of the week, you may be fighting for your life.
But by many accounts – you are extremely fortunate.
By many accounts, you and I have every advantage to be happy, healthy, and deeply fulfilled.
: Are you gay? If you’re found out, you will get jail time.
: If you were unfaithful to your spouse, you would be stoned, likely by your neighbours.
: Want to convert to a religion other than the one you were born in to? That would warrant execution.
: Thirsty? Clean water is five miles away. Walk to get it. You have one bucket.
: You may want to play soccer with the other boys your age, but you have weapons training.
: Have you complained about the government in an email? You’re going to court.
: Long to be thin, to run in the sun? Forget it, men in your village like large women and you are force fed.
: Raped? Refuse a marriage proposal? If you’re lucky, they won’t kill you, they’ll just throw acid in your face.
: Long for erotic pleasure? It’s difficult since your grandmother cut out your clitoris with a razor blade when you were twelve.
: If you’re menstruating, you will miss school rather than face the ridicule.
: You can’t get a job because by law, women are considered “half the value of men”. Hell, you can’t even vote. You can’t even look a man directly in the eyes.
We could go on with the atrocities and restrictions — from the extremes of human trafficking (the average American girl is thirteen when she is forced into sex slavery,) and torture, to what we consider basic health-care, like clean needles and dentistry. The hell that is Haiti, and parts of Uganda, Sierra Leone, West Bengal…and our own cities…
Sometimes, the most direct route to appreciation is through the darkness – even if it’s merely imagined.
Facts, faced: even in our struggles, most of us are privileged. We have so many rights, must we exercise the right to complain?
I’m writing this from an airport because I missed my flight – which derails my luxurious escape plans for a day. I’m lucky to have plans, to be sitting by a $2 million dollar sculpture, in a gun-free airport, drinking my peppermint tea, in a new warm coat, using free wifi. I’ll choose to be appreciative.
Your mother had the right idea: eat your dinner, there are children starving in the world.
That fresh salad you get with your entree; the insurance on your car; the clothes you wear, where you want; the hands you hold in public.
That vaccination scar on your arm.
The light you’re reading by.
Really, what’s the worst of your problems?
Perspective isn’t everything in terms of have’s and have nots. But you can work it to your very great advantage.