What is privilege? It’s an interesting question, and often difficult to answer for those of us who grew up under its umbrella. A video posted by Buzfeed a few months ago attempts to illustrate the reality of disadvantage through an exercise that was created by social activists Sharon Howell and Margo Adair. In the experiment, a number of people from various backgrounds were made to stand in a row while they were asked a series of questions that pertained to different situations they may have faced in their life.
Below the video are some thoughts I think are important to remember about the whole idea of ‘privilege.’ Being thankful for what you have, and realizing just how lucky you are does not mean be silent about things that matter, and clearly need to be changed.
More Thoughts On Privilege
Nearly all of us are guilty of taking our privileges for granted. We complain, stress, and worry over material possessions, issues at work, and other parts of our life we wish were different. How often do you stop for a moment, and realize how lucky you are? We live on a planet where a large majority are suffering in poverty, with no easy access to food, water, clothing, shelter, or energy. What’s worse, it doesn’t have to be this way — human beings have long had the potential for creating a human experience that supports everyone. It is possible.
“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.” – Buckminister Fuller
The fact that we are able to wake up in the morning and still have our life is a blessing in itself. There is always something to be thankful for, and it’s a shame that many of us, including myself, often see ourselves as victims, as not having enough, as being unlucky and faced with lack. Again, there is always something to be thankful for, and basking in the energy of gratitude can do wonders, especially if you are battling depression. Being thankful is a great way to shift the way you feel, and a great way to shift our perspective about life.
That being said, we may be thankful for our water, our access to food, and the roof over our heads, but basking in the emotion of gratitude does not mean we do not raise our voice and show our concern with regards to important issues. When we create awareness about water fluoridation, the dangers of genetically modified foods, pharmaceutical influence on modern day medical science, or anything else of that nature, we do so with the intent of bettering our world. Just because a bird is let out of a small cage and put into an even bigger one does not mean that the bird cannot have an issue with the new cage and still be thankful at the same time for having a bigger cage (despite the fact that there should be no cage at all).
Being thankful should not be used as an excuse to be apathetic about the aspects of our world that do not resonate with the majority.
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” – Edward Bernays (source)
So, while we are thankful and gracious for our existence, for our lifestyle, and for our access to basic necessities, we should not let that stop us from raising our voice against the injustices of the world. If one person on the planet is suffering, all of us are suffering, and those of us who have some sort of medium to make an impact should use that privilege with care and be grateful for it.
Something to think about. Please share your thoughts about privilege in the comments section below!
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