It is a cultural myth to say that everyone has the same opportunity in the United States—“Land of the free and the brave.”
What is amazing, though true is that the privileged class is barely, if at all, aware of their privilege. Privilege has blind spots. They tell themselves if they made it to the top, anyone can. And they pretty much believe they made it on their own.
But they really didn’t. Somewhere along the line a benefactor helped them in some way. It is easier to get a loan, a job, advantageous marriage, etc. when one is connected to others who have influence.
It is virtually impossible to recognize how things automatically tilt in one’s favor when one belongs to a privileged group. There is a large bias there is toward those who are believed to be more important because of gender, nationality, skin color, etc.
Privilege begets privilege.
And when does one relinquish power willingly? Not often, if ever.
Discrimination in any form causes an imbalance of power and creates a society where those who are marginalized feel rejected, disrespected and lost, causing resentment and chaos.
This is not the kind of world we want to live in.
Deep in our heart we know something is amiss. But when one person is valued more highly than another there is greed, envy and favoritism.
Balance can be restored by examining our values. Do we consciously or unconsciously believe that certain people are more valuable than others? This is prejudice and creates schisms, cracks, where some people fall through.
It’s very hard to fearlessly look at our prejudices and admit them. Instead we usually make up reasons and defend our point of view. We think it is only natural.
But we need to look much deeper to discover that we automatically tilt toward or away from others. And then examine why we are doing this. Early conditioning, trying to belong and get along, causes us to follow our tribes beliefs. And it’s probably unconscious.
Everything in life is relationship. How are we relating to others who come from different backgrounds and belief systems and have different skin color? Do we lean forward eager to get to know them?
Or do we lean away from and do our best to ignore those who have a lower rank on the social scale? For we don’t want to lose power!
Now is the time to look inside. Or would we rather hide that which we find difficult under the rug and go on pretending that we are not part of an unjust system?
Part of our country’s history is a system where slavery and favoritism have flourished, and where money and influence can buy votes.
We need to support candidates who will help the underprivileged, the neglected, the disrespected, and vote out the ones who simply want to retain power for themselves and their friends.
Do we still believe that men’s ideas are more important than women’s? How hard is it to vote women into the highest offices?
Perhaps we know from experience how it feels to be disrespected, overlooked, denied attention and do not wish this on anyone.
As a woman I have felt this discrimination in many areas of life. It was only in 1920 that women were allowed to vote—after almost a century of protest. Equality has not been an easy path. And it’s not here yet. Equal pay for equal work for women and people of color has not happened.
Perhaps we have strong religious views that makes ours the “correct” one, thereby invalidating the beliefs of others. This obviously causes fear and distrust of others. It causes breaks in society.
And what about sexual preferences? Is our definition of family so narrow that it must have one male and one female at the head?
Whom are we not giving equal consideration to? Do we listen only to the voices that sing our song, and try to avoid the others?
I believe we will not have a healthy society until we begin admitting our many prejudices and call them out.
It’s time to step off the hierarchical ladder and join the circle of humanity. Within this circle each person has gifts to share that can benefit all of us, so that everyone thrives. Each person needs to have a voice.
A healthy society gives attention to those who have been socially and economically spurned and helps them rise and find the comforts of life to which we are all equally entitled.
Each voice within us, even those that seem negative need to be listened to respectfully so that we have balance in our lives. There is something to be learned from every thought and attitude, not just the ones we are comfortable with. Both the negative and the positive need to be heard and brought into dialogue.
As we hold the tension of these opposite poles, new solutions appear and wisdom grows.
We are constantly choosing. What kind of society do you favor? Action must follow our dreams.