|The Wheel of Fortune as a symbol|
illustrates that everyone is subject
to the ups and downs of life.
Our notion of privilege also encourages me to think about where basic rights end and where special rewards begin. In a truly humanitarian society, having one’s survival needs met would be a right unless Nature decides otherwise. The same goes for access to education in a chosen area of interest when it is available. I do not propose that anything should be taken for granted, but I think an attitude of appreciation is a personal choice that benefits the one who adopts that mind-set. Clinging to stale notions of privilege makes inequality easier to justify as it is convenient to argue that working in harsh circumstances or being underpaid is preferable to having no income. It is inevitable that those in privileged positions are the benefactors giving the under-privileged the means to survive. A power imbalance can thereby easily be disguised as charity.
Something I find ironic is seeing how often misery results from clinging to superior positions. It might be my own projection, but I have often felt that in highly privileged environments there is little room for hilarity or genuine connection. Some of the wisest and kindest people I have known didn’t have money or status, and I have been to places where people showed warmth to me despite difficult political and economic circumstances. I do not wish to deny the challenges faced by those who struggle financially, or claim that everyone who is rich or successful is miserable. I do however suggest that we look deeper into our notion of privilege and question whether it is useful in any way unless we can have compassion while there is still social inequality.
Ultimately privilege is a matter of perspective. Life can be seen as a privilege with all the ups and downs, even though it might not always be obvious in dark times. Sharing with and learning from others, no matter what the differences in background, can enrich us if we look past appearances.