IMAGINE Magazine-Spring2016 - Page 4

REFLECTION Privilege, Empathy, and Hope for Peace By Dawn Shattuck O ne of the greatest illusions we have as Americans is that we rightly deserve everything that we have, or that we have justifiably earned everything that we have accomplished. While this may be true for a few, is it really true for most of us? If we are completely honest, wasn’t there someone or something in our past that made it possible for us to have greater access to funds, or to an education, or an inside chance at a job interview? Wasn’t there someone or some group that blazed the trail or opened doorways making it possible for us to be in the position we are today? Privilege, or lack thereof, clearly has a profound impact on the trajectory and satisfac- 4 IMAGINE l SPRING 2016 tion experienced in one’s life. No matter what part of the world we live in, privilege seems to be a gift of circumstance. The great Midwestern financier Warren Buffett quips that many of us in America have “won the ovarian lottery,” the ultimate position of privilege he describes as being born a white person in the United States, a society that mandates access to a certain level of education, it logical that those more privileged step forward with benevolence and be willing to stand up for others, and certainly, whenever possible, provide added opportunities? Can we really expect the conditions of the underprivileged and ultimately the world as a whole to change if those of much privilege do not help make social change happen? We must not only guard against the arrogance of privilege, but we must and is run by a government that continues to support some level of protection of a person’s basic civil rights. But does it really make sense that the opportunities that a good life provides be determined in large part by the circumstances of one’s birth? Should the wherewithal to obtain a good education, land a decent job, or live in a neighborhood where children can play without fear be the luck of the draw? People without privilege are disproportionately and negatively affected by lack of opportunities and options. Many face daunting challenges just to survive, let alone thrive. Under their circumstances, how difficult it must be to find any amount of peace of mind or to have hope for a more secure and successful future. A humane society should not require a privileged life to be able to feed, house, and clothe one’s children or to protect one’s family from harm. A compassionate society would mandate access to those basic needs for everyone, while ensuring access to a good education, healthcare and equal protection under the law. Does having privilege then come with added moral responsibility? Isn’t also be mindful of how ȁͽ)ɥ٥́ѡ̰ѥٕ)ȁͥѥٕ丁Aɥ٥͕)ɕЁɍͽѡ͔)ݡɔɥ٥ͥѕѱ٥)ѡݽɱѡɽ՝́ͥ́ȁ)]Ѽ͠)ͥѥٔͽ䁙ЁݱѡЁɥ٥Յ)̰ݥѠѡЁɅɕѼѡ́ݽɬ)ɔյݽɱ ͥɥ)܁ɥ٥ٔ)ѡUѕMхѕ́ݡ)Ёѥѕ)ɍЁѡձѥѕ)Ѽѡݔձͥ䁱չ)ͥѥٔչ()ѡ䁅́ѡѼ)ɔյݽɱ)٥1䰁չȁյЁȁAM幑єѕ+q]ٔѡ䁍ɥͥ́ѡ)չ丁=ȁɍ͕͔ѥѱЁ́́Ѽѥٕ͡Ёՙɥȁ役)Ѓaȁݸgt]Ё́ѡ)ѡѡЁ́ɔչ((0