Thursday, November 05, 2015

Looking Inward

I agree that we need to talk about Privilege. I have been avoiding it like the plague. Given that we are aspirational and comparative by nature, it is difficult to 'feel' privileged. If we are constantly aiming to improve our situation, we tend to constantly be looking forward to where people are better off than us. It is only stepping back and gaining perspective that allows us to recognise our privilege. I certainly didn't feel privileged growing up. Money was always an annoying mosquito. There were always things I wanted but couldn't have. Part of why I developed an ability to 'save marshmallows' was because I had to think long and hard about how to overcome obstacles. The obstacles were why other people could do things I wanted to do.

A blatant example for me of the challenge with Privilege is the difference in definition used for 'Poverty'. Bernie Sanders (a champion against Privilege) said of America that, 'We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth.' America? As in the United States of? I think you should check your definition. The problem with Privilege is relative, and the way we choose our groups and who we hang out with probably means we never look in the mirror. Relative Poverty sucks. We shouldn't ignore it. But there a billions of people who would trade an arm and a leg to get into America.

Another problem with Privilege is that we need to start by looking at ourselves before we point. In 'Get on With It', I spoke of how we don't need to wait for everybody to help. We need to help. There are already enough people to help those who need it. We genuinely don't need the help of those who don't want to help. If you think there should be a 70% tax rate, give (70% - the actual rate) to charity. If you don't do that because you think everyone should be forced to do it, think a little about how you feel when you are forced to do things.

The people who can claim moral authority are the ones who it is very difficult to throw rocks at. It was awkward listening to the Queen's Speech and her talking about people struggling given what she was wearing, and where she was sitting. I like how the British Monarch has shifted over the last century to more of a community outreach organisation. I don't agree with Hereditary Authority, but I like how they are changing. The chair makes it awkward. Equally, I don't agree with a lot of stuff Pope Francis believes in. But I am a cheerleader when he starts shifting the focus of the Catholic Church to helping the poor and gets rid of the bling.

In short, I absolutely think we need to talk about Privilege. I just think it will be a much more productive conversation if all of us are looking inward rather than picking favourite pet peeves to unpick.
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