Of late, there has been much hullabaloo in our country about something called "privilege".
According to a dictionary on The Google, privilege is described as follows: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted / available only to a particular person or group . . . exempt from a liability or obligation to which others are subject.
I assert that every one of us have privilege over others in one way or another.
When reading different articles and watching assorted videos surrounding the topic, I paused to consider if / how I might be privileged.
There are areas in which I am told -- or attempts by various groups in society to make me believe -- I am privileged for one reason or another, that reason being in accordance with them. And then there are situations in which -- if I stop and think about it -- I actually am at an advantage through no effort of my own.
You are too, Dear Hearts. OK, perhaps not in the same way(s) as me. But you are privileged.
And that's alright. (Bear with me on this).
You see, upon taking stock of my beginnings, education, appearance, bank account, abilities, and places I have lived, I have come to the conclusion that I have enjoyed (and appreciate!) one particular advantage which has given me a leg up . . . as it were . . . all of my life; something for which I did not earn, cannot take any credit whatsoever and, hopefully, utilize to its full potential.
Dear Hearts, I am female, paid less than other genders for the same job while sometimes doing the lion's share of the work, not wealthy, am not movie screen gorgeous, have lived in some sketchy 'hoods in my time, have certainly worked my fair share of disgusting jobs with let's just say not ideal bosses / companies, and have never been considered a hero because of any of the latter.
Oh, I'm not complaining. It's a good life. I have a roof over my head, food, a lovely family, and great friends. I can't imagine I need more than that.
My privilege was bestowed upon me at birth, has been with me all through my life, and came in the form of a mother and father.
Yes, Dear Hearts. My privilege just happens to be the parents with whom I was Gifted.
My father was an only child whose own dad passed away at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. My dad was six years old at the time. It was back in the day when women who found themselves in the position of widowhood were expected to re-marry or be taken in by family. Neither happened for my grandmother -- by her own choosing to some degree. Consequently, she worked long hours and my father spent a lot of time alone. They lived in rough neighborhoods where he simply learned to outrun bullies and gangs. But he joined the U.S. Navy and used the G.I. Bill to complete school. All he ever wanted was a family. And when he got one, he was all in. One hundred percent.
My mother grew up in a household where her Italian father would not allow any language but English to be spoken. In the days when his kind were the immigrants-du-jour, and the prejudice in this country was aimed at this particular people group, my grandfather didn't want anyone to know where his family came from for fear of unemployment or worse. Such was the climate in those days.
In spite of their upbringing, my parents were ahead of their time. They raised us with encouragement to become whatever we wanted, to be ourselves no matter where we came from, and how to utilize critical thinking skills. A solid work ethic and fair treatment of all people based upon character and nothing else -- not gender, skin color, material wealth, or who their daddy is -- was not only taught but modeled. They were/are my heroes. I could go on and on about my folks. Perhaps, someday I'll write a book all about them so you, Dear Heart readers, also have the opportunity to know the best set of parents in America.
Many claim that if one has a particular skin color, gender, attractiveness or special talent, money, or even if one lives in a certain part of town or works in a specific career, they are privileged. Depending upon your personal lens, this is true. In my case, it was growing up with my parents who mindfully raised my siblings and I. We weren't rich. My folks worked hard, had many struggles, losses, and sad events in their lifetimes -- as have you and I. But they were a team. And the wisdom and forethought, quality time spent with us, and tireless efforts to raise healthy-minded human beings, were / are priceless.
I wish every child had parents exactly like mine.
But back to you, Dear Hearts . . .Like I said, I am of the belief that every one of us is privileged in one way or another. We all have something that was simply handed to us -- whether it is an ability, appearance, talent, characteristic, special person in our lives -- which we didn't work or pay for.
So . . . as I pondered my personal privilege, I wondered how I could honor my parents by paying it forward. Of course, my own family comes to mind. But there is a responsibility to carry it further. How can I use my privilege of having such loving wise live-in mentors -- who provided the mental / emotional / spiritual skill set to handle life's challenges -- to help someone else who, perhaps, had the opposite?
As I continue my doctoral studies in Pastoral Psychology, this question looms in the forefront of my mind and heart. I am not concerned. God's timing is perfect and the answer will come.
However, I will leave you with this fourfold thought, Dear Hearts:
1) You have privilege;
2) You, and you alone, can determine what yours is;
3) Use it for good;
4) Use it to help someone else who does not have your particular privilege.
Do all of the above.
And each of us will be heroes.