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Column: Deconstructed word salad

Posted: August 13, 2018 4:34 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Much is made of “privilege” these days. In many cases, the word “privilege” is being used as a pejorative.

Like everything else in conspicuous public consumption these days, the word is vastly over-used, much like the words “awesome,” “amazing,” “stunning,” and my personal favorite nausea-inducer, “passion,” as in, “I’ve got a passion for (insert utterly banal, overused, inappropriate object of the preposition here).”

I’ve ranted about passion before. Suffice it to say, in my book, if you have a passion for anything other than your significant other, you are either an overly dramatic moron or you are actually in the process of being mercilessly scourged by Roman centurions prior to carrying a cross up a hill some Friday afternoon in April.

I’m getting to where I feel the same way about the word “privilege.”

I have no doubt that as an average guy driving a decent car at generally normal hours in a manner that doesn’t remind people of an incoming suicide bomber, then I have a much better than even chance of not being hassled by the man.

That may or may not be a privilege I get because of my inability to tan; I like to think it has more to do with the fact that I’m not driving like, you know, an incoming suicide bomber.

Whatever. I’ll take your word for it on some of the more nefarious, unfair happenings in every day society. You may very well be right.

But when you start telling me I’m privileged because I came from a good home and a good family, I have to hit the stop button on your loop.

Let me see if I understand this -- if my parents were actually married, held jobs,  owned our home, ensured that we respected our elders, did our chores, completed our homework, completed our educations and became gainfully employed and otherwise lived productive lives, I was somehow bestowed a special privilege available only to people just like me?
Does that mean my friends of different ethnic, racial, religious, societal backgrounds who also grew up in similar situations were not privileged?

As is so often the case, it sounds to me like someone with a pretty nasty agenda has deliberately sought to confuse definitions.

Privilege, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “a special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people beyond the advantages of most.”

I would say anyone who grew up like I did, regardless of background, may or may not be privileged, but they are undeniably and absolutely blessed.

And yes, there is a major difference between privilege and blessing.

Privileged implies that someone was just handed all these groovy things -- great parents, a nice home, a good education, moral grounding, whatever -- because it’s a birthright. Jimmy Uber Alles, if you will.

But here’s the thing: no one chooses their parents. No one chooses their family. No one gets to do that, at least not when they make the grand entrance into the world, anyway.

If the Good Lord, or the Great Spirit, or Zoroaster, or the Watery Tart who Threw Swords at King Arthur, or the Hickory Tree in my backyard -- whoever you happen to believe is responsible -- chose to determine I would be born into a wonderful family and a loving home, then that entity blessed me.

It is highly possible that such blessing is beyond the normal advantages of most; I wouldn’t know about that.

What I do know is I am, in fact, blessed beyond all measure. While I personally consider that blessing a privilege, I don’t believe that privilege is reserved only for  people like me.

I obviously didn’t automatically and inherently  deserve that gift just because of who I am.

No one does.


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