I’ve gotten just a little hyper-focused on our collective ideas about “Privilege” lately. The word is everywhere these days. Like an unwanted pop-up in my brain, it tries to filter – even block — what I do, think and say. What is privilege and should I be concerned if I think I have it?
We were discussing a few of life’s disappointments yesterday when I was offered the reminder: “You don’t get to choose your parents.” And oh, by the way: I also didn’t get to choose my gender, or the color of my skin. Or the circumstances I was born into. It’s all random, the cards I was dealt. My only choice is in how I play them. But what about ‘privilege’?
A while back I streamed the Disney movie “Soul”. https://youtu.be/aP5C1OSSEOo The computer-gen visuals are unbelievable, but the real impact is the message directed at all of us. It felt way-deep (for Disney). In the story, there’s a kind of spirit-cloud hovering above Earth. Our souls are tiny glow-globs that get assigned to random little baby bodies.
The Being doing the assigning in “Soul” doesn’t ask the globs about the kind of life they’d like to experience. Wealth and privilege, or poverty and exclusion? No one gets a choice. Makes sense, in my experience. The life I’m dropped (born) into shapes my perspective. Makes me vulnerable to bias and stereotypes. How I see the world and my role in it. My social interactions are definitely guided.
But my perspective – so I was informed by a Woke person yesterday – means that I can’t embrace – let alone understand – the full experience of anyone else. I can become someone’s “ally” in The Struggle, but I can never really feel the struggle.
Fair enough. But I can continue to try to reach out, to understand, to make meaningful connections. Too many words, or labels, already separate us, putting us into hard little category boxes we can’t hope to get out of. The word ‘privilege’ has become just one more wedge that separates us as people. It’s not the only wedge. It’s not even the biggest wedge. But we certainly didn’t need another one, and I’m pushing-back against it.