Some people call “IT” privilege. Wealth, race, gender, ability, and on and on and on. I call “IT” luck. Maybe it’s because I’m adopted, and I know that my life may have turned out very differently but for a few choices that various people made in the first month of my life. Not better or worse, necessarily. Just different. Not good or bad luck – just Luck.
This segment from PBS Newshour (folks, we NEED to keep journalism like this alive!) seems almost like a piece from The Onion at first. Oooooooh! Look at those nasty rich people! But for those who watch and hear and allow themselves to really listen (and I’m talking about everyone here, not just the wealthy), you see that it’s pointing out that we all – regardless of the kind of luck we’ve had in our lives – we all have the potential to be the greedy, grabbing, gross people who take candy from kids and ignore pedestrian crosswalks. In the same vein, we all have the potential to be kind, sharing, generous people who give of their time and money and positive role modeling.
The rigged Monopoly game explains it nicely. Mainly because it shows that being rich or being poor doesn’t INHERENTLY make someone bad or good. It’s the rationalization of why you’re privileged, even if it’s for a short time. We all want to believe that it’s our own talent, skill, hard work that has provided the benefits in our lives, don’t we? Because we DO have talents and skills, and we DO work hard. And admitting that some of the nice clothes and shoes and Broadway tickets and beach club memberships come from Luck – pure, dumb, longed-for Luck – means that another nasty conscience-tweaking emotion might pop up: Guilt. And that might lead to tough questions like: Why do I get to have nice things when others don’t?
And who can relax with a chilled bottle of prosecco at the sidewalk cafe if they feel guilty about the ragged suit and unpleasant odor surrounding the man who is interrupting your conversation?*
Bottom Line: We have control. We can ALL be more compassionate. We can ALL be more callous. So how about we stop acting like some of us are so much more enlightened? Or more bigoted. Or more generous. Or less deserving.
Next week, the shoe may be on the other foot.
* This is not a condemnation of anyone else. This is my experience. I’m quite able to do my best to enjoy a (lucky) chilled bottle of wine with a friend even as I see someone in dire straits. It’s called survival, denial, justification. And sometimes I give him (her, them) a dollar, and sometimes I don’t. Just like you probably do.
Need some help swallowing the evils in the world? Check out the moonshine grid at yeah write. Really. Do.