Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


2nd thoughts

Privilege: The Other Cancer – 2

Ten ques­tions about the nature of priv­i­lege:

  1. Is it a priv­i­lege to ques­tion priv­i­lege?
  2. Is priv­i­lege an inevitable part of civ­i­liza­tion?
  3. Is priv­i­lege inher­ent­ly cor­rupt or cor­rupt­ing (like pow­er)?
  4. Can some­one tru­ly eschew priv­i­lege since hav­ing it in the first place is, in fact, a priv­i­lege?
  5. Does liv­ing in a wealthy ‘devel­oped’ nation make one inher­ent­ly priv­i­leged?
  6. Is free­dom a priv­i­lege?
  7. Are human rights a priv­i­lege?
  8. Are polit­i­cal rights (cit­i­zen­ship, the right to vote, etc) a priv­i­lege?
  9. Who is more priv­i­leged a King or a Jester? A Pope or a pris­on­er? A Movie Star or a Politician? An Artist or a Scientist?
  10. Are you priv­i­leged? If so, how? If not, why not? You’re using a com­put­er and the Internet, pre­sum­ably know how to read and write, etc — are these not priv­i­leges?

One Response to “Privilege: The Other Cancer – 2”

  1. Steve » November 2nd, 2009

    (11) Does any­body care? If so, why?

    This is my rather flip way of say­ing that I don’t find the notion of “priv­elege” to be a use­ful way of view­ing the prob­lems of inequal­i­ty in human life. There will always be peo­ple who have var­i­ous advan­tages rel­a­tive to oth­er peo­ple. To jump from this obser­va­tion to cre­at­ing the notion of “priv­elege” which can be end­less­ly ana­lyzed (not to men­tion being the sub­ject of nar­cis­sis­tic guilt trips) seems just sil­ly. However, I sup­pose it does pro­vide a con­ve­nient excuse to put off doing any­thing con­struc­tive about the real prob­lems which unequal advan­tage may cre­ate.

    I would sug­gest that hav­ing an advan­tage, even an arguan­ly unfair advan­tage, is nei­ther a good thing nor a bad thing in itself. The rel­e­vant ques­tion is what do you do next. This is the fun­da­men­tal ques­tion of per­son­al moral­i­ty and ethics as it involves our rela­tion­ships to those imme­di­ate­ly around us, as well as our impact on the larg­er soci­ety of which we are a part.

    These are issues which have ben dealt with at length ovet thou­sands of years by the great reli­gious and philo­soph­i­cal thinkers. The broad out­line of these thinkers’ work, and the ele­ments of con­sen­sud among them is well known, if not always well-under­stood in prac­tice. I see lit­tle to add.

    Be a good per­son. Help oth­ers. Do the right thing. It’s not rock­et sci­ence.

    If you find your­self advan­taged, use your pow­ers for good.

    That’s all.