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Life privilege. Being alive. Some are not.

Pain-free privilege. Waking up without pain. Some people experience chronic pain every moment of the day that is severe and intense and doesn’t go away.

Physical health privilege. A body that works and that doesn’t get sick. Some people have injuries or diseases that cause discomfort or prevent them from doing all they want or need to do. Some people are always sick.

Food privileges. Being able to dislike and even throw away food. Eating every day, even multiple times a day. Even more so, the privilege of eating healthy food that is local and fresh. Some do not get to eat multiple times a day, or even every day. Others do not have access to nourishing food.

Clothing privilege. Sock and underwear you don’t need to share. Clothing that is comfortable and stylish. Multiple containers full of clothing, different clothing for every season and social setting. Some do not have these things.

Home privilege. Waking up in your own home. A place that is yours and no one else’s, that you know will be yours tomorrow, next week, next month, next year…as long as you want it to be. Some people do not have their own space, or even borrowed space. Some people do not know the stability that comes from having a home. Some people have no shelter from the elements.

Freedom privilege, the type that comes from not being on paper. This means you are not on probation or parole, have no warrants or upcoming court dates and do not need to register your name with your local government because said government considers you dangerous.

Freedom privileges, the type that comes from living in America and other stable-ish nations. Going through multiple sequential days without fearing death, destruction or insurrection. You can say what you want, believe what you want, associate with whom you want, and in more and more places, marry who you want. With these freedoms comes stability and safety and prosperity. We Americans generally do not go through our days waiting for the next rocket to blow up the building next to us. We generally do not fear mobs and riots and the aggressive action of the military against us. Some people do live this way, where bombs and mobs and riots and persistent military action is a normal occurrence. Where hearing that a neighbor died in a attack is sad, but not entirely surprising.

Family privileges.

Having family. Some have none.

Having family that is not your enemy. Some people have intense conflicts with their family.

Having local family that is not your enemy. Some people would like to be close to their families but cannot because they are cut off by geography and traveling is expensive.

Having a friend.

Having more than one friend.

Hetero-privilege. Being able to fall in love with the person with whom you fall in love and being able to pursue a committed relationship with that person without fear of prejudice, backlash, persecution or penalization and without fear of being denied basic human rights. How you choose to partner says something deep about who you are. Some people are prohibited from experiencing meaningful partner-relationships/ These folks are prohibited from ever living freely with who they are and how they are made. Sometimes they pursue the relationship anyway, even though society misunderstands them, and they have to fight for recognition. Relational privilege is not ever being questions about why you have the relationship you do and not having to defend how you fall in love.

Skin privilege. As deep and beyond your control as sexual orientation is the color of your skin. Some people encounter hostility and are denied privileges their whole lives because they have different colored skin.

God privilege. Having your first experience of God be a healthy, loving and nurturing one. Being able to grow up in a family that is loving and supportive and equates God with  concepts of love and mercy and healthy living. Being in an environment that supports spiritual growth.

And Religious privilege which is like God privilege. Being in a culture that provides opportunity and resources for learning about God, holy texts, spiritual forefather, nuances of theology. Being able to bicker about slight theological differences is perhaps the most extravagant or all privileges. It is the sum of all other privileges.

See not everyone has opportunity to study theology. Not everyone has money for it, or time for it. Not everyone has been shown a properly inviting image of God in childhood to make them want to study theology. Not everyone lives in a culture where they can study their religion of choice without persecution. Not everyone is welcome in religious circles. Not everyone is educated or mentally stable enough to explore abstract theological concepts. Not everyone has a stable enough lifestyle to study theology because they are in prison or homeless or chemically dependent or in the hospital or sick. And there are some for whom the God-concept is equated with meanness, abuse, neglect, prejudice, crusades, jihad, ostracization and judgment, and these folks would not be caught dead in a religious setting.

For those of us who have a privilege, let us not forget the experiences of those with fewer privileges. Let us be careful what judgments we make of people and of what expectations we place on them for they may not have the privileges, strengths, and opportunities as us. Those “others” may be working to overcome challenges we cannot imagine just to keep up with us privileged ones. If they don’t completely fit out mold, perhaps we owe them a break.

Imagine your life without just a few of the privileges you have. I suggest you may not even recognize yourself

Let us diligently learn the stories of the lives around us. Let us show mercy and grace to all people, especially the people we perceive to be failing by not meeting our privilege-based-expectations. Let us be kind to those who are different, who we do not understand. Let us speak in truth and love and curiosity, always searching out how we can love the other person…

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