Among many words that being (ab)used often this year, privilege is one of them. As seen in current situations where inequalities happen everywhere, privilege becomes one of the keywords for the context.
According to Cambridge dictionary, privilege is an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or because they are rich. Most of the time, money is one of the strongest indicators of privilege and it’s true. Money might be not everything, but it surely makes things easier.
With money alone, the on-going pandemic even gives a clear line between those with privileges and those who arent. Those with savings and stable job could get through this hard time by surviving from home. Their life continues without so much struggles. But ones who are not as lucky, everyday might feel like a battle that should be fought hard in order to win. As lucky as I could be to be on the privileged side, I couldn’t help admiring those, in spite of their hard situation, keep thriving against all odds.
I have been realizing for some time that privilege comes in so many uncountable forms beyond money. Where you were born, who your parents (and later, your partner) are, a geographical place where you grow up, those were among given priveleges that one could have without effort since it’s all given. But, these past few months show that the true privileges are the intangibles of the tangibles. From my eyes, these are some examples of more real and needed privileges, or maybe kind of privileges that I want my daughter to have:
True privilege is not about how much money one has or earn, but the skill to know how to use it well, to achieve the goals and to give benefit to others.
True privilege is not about having good brain, but the ability to keep learning, trying, and not giving up when things get hard.
True privilege is not only about owning many things, but the ability and the willing to take care of it everyday.
True privilege is not living comfortably but having the adaptability skill to survive any situations.
True privilege is the ability to not taking things for granted, maintaining your health when you’re healthy, being conscious about what you do and your life, be grateful for everything that life has given to you.
True privilege is being mentally and physically healthy.
True privilege is knowing how much is enough based on your own standard not others and knowing your priorities and live accordingly.
True privilege is being able to be kind in this crazy world.
If those were summed up in one big picture, privilege is having the right mindset to live the life.
When I started my motherhood journey, the greatest unseen privilege that I have is : having choices. One should know how priceless it is. Tracing the dots back, having choices in the future was the result of the what focus on doing hard times one chose (or being chosen) in the past. I couldn’t help remembering one of James Clear’s quotes :
The Paradox of Freedom:
The way to expand your freedom is to narrow your focus.
Stay focused on saving to achieve financial freedom.
Stay focused on training to achieve physical freedom.
Stay focused on learning to achieve intellectual freedom.
What I realized after being a mother, such privileges are all earned. Not given. Through what? Through choosing the right courses in school life, as Prof Christensen said in How to Measure Your Life. Not until I became a mother then I knew that those hard times I had been through would give me easier path in the future. Not until I had my own child, those hard times were so much harder on the mother’s side than the child’s.
Giving your child hard times is ten times harder than experiencing them by yourself. It takes a lot of courage, commitment, stubborness, and heart made of steel to make and watch your child ‘suffer’, for good. Giving them hard times take the right treatment since you need to be fully present and supportive. Telling them to do something is not enough. You as parents, need to walk the talk. You need to keep learning on how to make and help them survive the hard times, without having unwanted damage.
Bloody hard works.
I was too afraid to imagine what I would become of if my parents didnt work hard and had strong heart to keep me stick with those challenging times. Been watching many examples and result if the parents takes the easy way. The price that the child should pay sometimes is too hard to handle.
The question is how to pass these privileges? Tracing back once again from my own experience, building privileges starts from building a good foundation, which is good characters. And good characters are the result of good habits built from early years. It’s a long term full time job. It’s tiring and exhausting. Countless time to resist the urge to quit, countless time to fall, stop, and breaks, then stand up once again.
The result of good habits built for years could only be visible in the long run. That makes many fail because we basically always want an instant result.
As James Clear wrote in Atomic Habits,
Habit becomes character.
Character becomes one of most precious privileges.
More hardworks in future years and long way to go to create and pass as many as privileges to the next generation.
Because why not?
Life is never getting easy.
And, James Clear’s Atomic Habits is clearly one of the most important books to read in its category.
8 July 2020
(Updated) : Just listened to this and I couldn’t believe one of the best blogger whose writing I’ve been enjoying a lot since a long time said the very same idea about privilege in minute 42.
“The truest form of privilege is having the right mindset”.