Privilege

“To whom much is given, from him much will be required.”
Luke 12:48

At work this semester, I’ve been talking with college students about privilege. Have we been privileged in some way? Educationally? Financially? Socially? The word “privilege” carries mixed meanings: having privilege is generally recognized as desirable, but depending on context and tone, being labeled as privileged can also induce guilt or defensiveness. This is especially true for people who are expending energy and time figuring out who they are and what they want their life to be–aka, college students–but it can also be true for those of us who have crossed into full-fledged adulthood. Many are past the stage where they–we–feel guilt for the privilege we have, and others still struggle to acknowledge that we have any privilege. Either way, it’s allowed me to spend a lot more time articulating my thoughts about a topic that’s been on my mind for some time.

First off, there is of course the viewpoint that, if you’re lucky enough to have money, health, intelligence/aptitude, a stable home life, or any other privilege that opens doors for you in life, then you’re fortunate, and you can leave it at that. You owe no one anything.

I disagree whole-heartedly. None of us, no matter how smart, strong, charming, etc., has gotten far in life alone. Someone cared for and sheltered us, someone helped us with homework, someone paid, or helped pay, for our education. Someone connected us with someone who got us that career-making internship, someone was there for us when we needed the emotional support. To make Simon and Garfunkel’s point, to say “I am an island” is simply fooling oneself. 


This is all pretty elementary stuff. But I needed to lay it out as groundwork for my next entry, on risk. Well, maybe it’ll be on risk. I can’t completely articulate yet the connection between privilege and risk, but I hope to explore it in the next entry. 

Until then!

One thought on “Privilege

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