Something hit me today when I realized that the number one thing I value most in the world is my freedom. My ability to come and go as I please. My ability to say whatever I want, to do whatever I want, to be whoever I want. Without that freedom I honestly do not know how I could survive.
And I realized that so many people all over the world do. Not. Have. That freedom.
In fact, I'd say the majority of people don't have that freedom, not completely, whether it's because of where they live or where they come from or what they look like or who they love or who they are.
What are you going to do with your freedom, if you have it?
Someone asked me not long ago what advice I would offer to him, someone younger than me, still in college. This question made me think for a long time. I ended up writing to him afterward.
"Don't waste your privilege," I said. "Whether you like it or not, as a white boy from America, you can do and say things that other people wouldn't get away with. You can use that to your advantage, to the advantage of others. So don't keep quiet. Use your privilege to help others that can't have it."
It's why I speak up when I see someone treated badly, in situations where I "should" be quiet, where someone makes a comment they shouldn't, when someone is being blatantly rude. Maybe people won't like me if I speak up. There are so many people who are not in a position to help themselves.
You know? I could sneak past a guard at a refugee camp to hand someone food, and I think I have a responsibility to do that, because if I got caught all I have to do is apologize and giggle and maybe cry. The actual risk of me getting in trouble is very small. Opportunities like that, no matter on what scale, exist daily.
I do not have to worry about being killed for speaking up, for myself or someone else.
I think the best way to "reject" that privilege is to own it instead and use it for all that we're worth. Be responsible for it. Be aware of it, as best you can. Don't use it selfishly, unconsciously - use it for the benefit of other people.
If you have this privilege, a privilege you didn't work or ask for, that was handed to you at birth - what are you going to do with it?????
I hope it is not wasted.