Thursday, November 25, 2010

Privilege

It's rather earlier on Thanksgiving morning than I intended to be up. The cats are fed, the coffee is started, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos are playing, and I have the time before the bustling of the day -- yes, there will be bustling today, preparing the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and packing to travel -- begins to set down these musings.

I've spent a lot of time over the past year reading the thoughts of Internet sages on privilege, the unearned accumulation of advantage. This is nothing I set out to do. These various essays and rants were simply posted where I read anyway. No doubt this confession will affirm in some minds exactly the points about privilege. You see, I'm a 50 year old white male from the American South.

I've never had to remind anyone I was talking to that my eyes are on my face, not my chest. I've never seen employees anywhere I've shopped spending more time watching me to be sure I wasn't slipping merchandise into my pockets than waiting on the customers in front of them. I've never been turned away from voting. And what's more, I've never had to even think about these things.

Privilege.

If you're reading this and your primary assumption amounts to, "Well, it's about time he realized how lucky he is," may I suggest that you learn to recognize the blinders your high horse is wearing. You can learn from me as surely as I can from you.

I am incredibly grateful for the life I have, and even more, for the help I've had getting here. Yes, I have seized the opportunities that have come my way. Yes, I'd be stupid to pass up the advantages that life has afforded me, both for myself and my family.

And yet...

I am striving to live a life of of honesty and integrity. I can give up things so that others can have them and still get far more than I sacrificed. After all, life is hardly a zero-sum game.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I don't want to be treated the same as everyone else. I want everyone else to be treated the same as me.

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