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Privilege - is
this a challenge?
We often hear of
people who have overcome adversity, poverty or handicap to achieve great
things in their life. We are uplifted and inspired by them, that despite
the odds against them, they have succeeded or reached their goals. Their
own strength of will or moral character saw them through the tough times
and supported them when it would have been easy to roll over and die.
Survival itself can be a great motivator, because the consequences of
NOT striving might be simply ceasing to exist.
But, what of the
challenges of privilege? How does being born into wealth and status,
challenge our inner nature? Without a motivator as strong as "survival",
would our character flaws stand the test of "sufficiency"
and propel us to achieve something for ourselves or merely confirm the
old adage "easy come, easy go"?
Would we succumb
to the fear of losing what was handed to us on a plate and become mean
I once read an interesting
article about charity and the generosity of the "haves" and
"have nots". It seems a charity collection day for a lifeboat
appeal went well in the lower end of town - people with not a lot to
spare, still gave what they could to help because someone may be in
dire peril one day. However, charity was less forthcoming from the occupants
of the "big houses", who ironically were more likely to call
on the lifeboat services as they were the ones who could afford the
luxury of sailing boats!
How often has the
fear of loss or the greed for more been demonstrated by rulers who were
not content to rule just one domain but went on to conquer other lands?
If not undertaken by force, perhaps then by stealth, cunning, alliance
But, what about
lower down the food chain - what of the manipulations and contriving
that some people undertake to claw their way up the social ladder, to
be seen in the right company and rub shoulders with the "upper
classes". The lack of inner security can be as big a motivator
as physical survival for some. When fear shakes the foundation of self
balance, and the character is not up to the job, then the outward demonstration
can be a downright nasty piece of work, that is prepared to do anything
and remove any obstacle in order to be the one on top!
And does a lofty
viewpoint also have us looking down on the less fortunate?
Do we want that
rung of the ladder all for our self or are we prepared to offer a hand
up to someone lower down? Or possibly we inflict our help on others
rather than really aid them, with our sense of self-righteousness sweeping
aside their own desires, wants or even rights, because "we know
better"! History is testament to legions of "do-gooders"
who had the best interest of their subjects in mind when they took away
their children or saved their soul by torturing their body!
Privilege can be
a challenge. It
can test our inner nature and provide opportunity for our character
to really demonstrate it's ability to sustain inner balance.
When the scales
of equity are tipped in our favour and our hands control more power
than our inner strength can manage, our weaknesses will be what others
know us by.
Hargreaves 12th August 2004)
Privilege - is this a challenge? - Hark.net.au