The word “privilege” has been floating by me for the past few months, so I’d like to take some time to chew on it, understand what it’s made of, digest and assimilate its meaning.
What does it mean to be privileged? Does guilt go with it, hand in hand, like ketchup to the proverbial hotdog? Now there’s some food for thought. I’ll order two of those with some fava beans and a nice chianti. Uhoh, I digress already. Let’s try this again.
I am continuously reminded that the image I see when I look outside my window is not at all the same in 95% of the world. I am not referring to the esthetics, but to the general outlook of life, the feeling of safety, of the subconscious “knowing” that when I leave my four walls, I will most likely reach my destination unscathed. (If we’re talking metaphorically then I’ll scream at you with certainty that nobody comes out of “this” without some wicked scars, but let’s keep it literal, shall we?)
I was riding the bus to school today, and, as usual, people watching; everybody had their “train face” on, but that didn’t stop me from trying to make eye contact with somebody, anybody. I needed just a hint of understanding, that just one other person was also picturing all the passengers in an improv musical about their Monday morning lives. I can’t be the only one, can I?
Back to privilege.
On the subsequent train ride, I sat next to a pretty young lady. She mostly ignored everyone until two young guys got on the train, cool sunglasses and all, towering over us, faces turned towards our seat. She and I started chatting; it so happened that she was on her way to work in a dental office, and that she and I went to the same school. Beauty AND brains. Turns out we had much in common. One of the towering guys started waving at her, and bluntly asked her if she wanted to go have a coffee with her. She politely answered that she “was good” and continued telling me about her program. Somehow the coffee guy ended up in the seat beside us, and almost as if she’s been through this before, she half mutters to me, “Oh I see what’s happening…” Now my stop was coming up next, and she was already preparing herself for the ramped-up onslaught of this guy’s pursuit for a coffee date. Is it not a right that when a person says “no” to a request, that it means “no”, and not “try harder”? It’s becoming more and more clear to me that it is in fact, not a right, but a privilege-but where can one buy this privilege, the mystical fruit that allows a person’s voice and message to be heard and understood? I’ve yet to find the store that sells them.