What does it mean to possess privilege as a human being? Who defines it? Who measures it?
Should it be considered when we go to vote?
Can we assign an individual a score that determines the extent of their privilege?
If so, how do we determine the extent of the numerous kinds of privilege many have attempted to portray?
How do we determine racial privilege? Socioeconomic privilege? Religious privilege? Gender privilege?
What about the privilege of having a particular sexual identity?
The truth is we will never agree on how much privilege one possesses.
Moreover, assigning fixed quantitative values to privilege would only serve as an insult to the complexities and diversities of the human condition.
There is, however, a privilege we all possess: the privilege of being a citizen of the United States.
Some may scoff at this statement. America has many faults and millions live in poverty.
There’s racism and political polarization. There’s hunger, famine, malnutrition, violence, hatred and homelessness.
Unfortunately, such troubles have existed since humans came into existence and before great nations were formed and governments established.
So let’s narrow it down. What is American privilege for the average middle-class American citizen?
It’s being upset by rising gas prices rather than being upset that a bomb was dropped onto our home.
It’s getting angry that someone cut us off in traffic instead of angry that we’ve been drafted into a foreign war.
It’s loudly complaining that the politician we voted for didn’t win an election instead of surreptitiously whispering about how unfair it is that we don’t have a right to vote.
It’s screaming about football instead of screaming at a military invading our country and bombing our children.
Too often we Americans take for granted the simple blessings of living in a first-world nation.
We have running water and so much food that we eat it while we walk and drive.
We have phones to call on and television to watch and video games to play and movies to see and we can all do so with safety and security because an American flag flies above us.
We have cars and doctors, medications and grocery stores with shelves stocked full of our every need and desire.
While there will be those who find a way to falsely claim I am idolizing America as a faultless nation, it is important for all Americans to recognize the privilege they possess, even in a nation with many flaws.
It may not be the same privilege as other Americans, but it’s a privilege nonetheless and should be recognized as such.
The sooner more average Americans realize how little our concerns stack up against citizens from other nations, the sooner we can become more mindful, courteous, humble, and appreciative of the blessings we have.
Life is short, and living a life of ungratefulness, envy, lust, greed and closed-mindedness will only hurt us. Am I saying that we have no right to complain or be upset about things because someone somewhere has it worse than us?
Absolutely not; I never would. We have every right to complain and be upset about things. Human beings are built that way. But it is worth realizing our privilege as Americans, for it will make us more knowledgeable and understanding of ourselves and our fellow human beings.
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