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What Exactly is Privilege?

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Privilege is quite the buzzword lately. It can work people on both sides of the equation into a frenzy. However, this comic by Toby Morris, made it all so simple and relatable. I encourage you to read it in full with an open mind and heart. I read it with my boys and it made things especially clear for all of us. We talked about how if you run a one mile race but you get to start at the half mile marker, finishing is much easier for you.  If your friend, who starts at the beginning, wants to catch up, they have to run twice as fast. It all made sense.

If you are on the side of privilege, take a moment to be grateful. Grateful for the circumstances you had nothing to do with. Grateful for those in your past who made life just a bit easier for you. Grateful for all the little breaks and gifts along the way; or, perhaps, sorry for the opportunities you didn’t take advantage of.

If you are on the other side, take a moment to reflect on how far you have come, on the odds you had to beat, on how much better life will be for your children because of your sacrifices.

I love what Morris had to say on Upworthy about his comic:

“I’m not trying to say I’m against that idea that if we work hard, we succeed,” he said. “I would like to think that is true, for the most part, but I just think people often forget or don’t realise that our starting points, or our paths to success, aren’t all even. Some people have to overcome more obstacles in the path to succeeding than others.

He was also quick to point out that this isn’t about anyone needing to feel bad or guilty for the privileges that they have, but rather it’s about honesty and understanding — because maybe that’s what could lead us to a better place.”

It is also important to remember that someone can be economically privileged but morally, spiritually or emotionally neglected, this can be a less seen but seriously severe stumbling block. Others may not be economically blessed but have love in abundance. Our past does not define us, but it does shape us. We can all be more gentle and more generous. We can all be more grateful and more hopeful. We can all do better at judging less and helping more by looking outside ourselves. This comic is a great first step.

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2 thoughts on “What Exactly is Privilege?

  1. I really like the expansion of privilege you bring in–morally, spiritually, emotionally. I liked the focus on gratitude rather that guilt as well. I think we will get farther in this discussion if we take that approach. Guilt leads to defensiveness and divisiveness.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts and your kind insight. I agree…none of us have much control over where we end up as children, and being morally, spiritually or emotionally destitute can be even more harmful that being financially poor. Being defensive or accusatory for things outside our control is very unproductive. Thanks for your thoughts!

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