If life is about community, the attempt to preserve privilege is a sure path to ruin. Nothing divides quite as effectively as the pretense of superiority.
For me, the most awkward moments are when I hear others — or painfully, myself — speaking out of privilege. The frailty of asserting superiority because of race, gender, skin color, nationality, religion, income, or whatever an individual can claim as his or her distinguishing badge exposes the underlying weakness.
When my value is based entirely on my perceived privilege, I have asserted that I have little or no value as an individual. Our true worth can only be evaluated in the context of our contribution to our community. Yet, the acidity of privilege actually weakens our societal structures by emphasizing our claimed privilege. It creates a scarcity mentality and evokes unhealthy and unnecessary competition for resources.
The proven cure to the problem of privilege is building a community of diversity in relationships, thought, and culture. And there are ways to access that cure. For example,
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
The quote comes from a context of international travel. Travel is a safe place to experience diversity. We separate ourselves from our own worlds for a little while, dip our toes in the pool of the different, and then return to our own space. For a few, the experience changes them. Time and expense thwart many from that pursuit. And safety is an increasing concern as a result of the polarizing words and policies of world leaders fueling fears and foolishly asserting the gospels of privilege.
Do something different. Be someone different.
Diversity, however, isn’t exiled in a faraway land. It thrives where you are . . . your city, your schools, your neighborhood. Experience it. Not for the novelty, but for its redeeming work in your life and in your spirit.
Set aside your privilege. Claim your place at the table of