My Gratitude Demands My Service

Most of the people who will read this were born with some blessings; health, access to education, access to technology, and the mental capability to put them all to use are all blessings; many people lack one or more in their lives. Some of us have been given blessings we don’t even know to count. Things like health, the culture into we fit, and the ability to learn and understand information are often overlooked.

I try to be grateful for those things. My gratitude drives me to use my knowledge and skills to improve the world. It drives me to use my voice, which gets listened to more so than if I were female, transgender, or Black. I have privilege, and I try to remember that I need to be grateful. I want that gratitude to guide my actions. No one has ever tried to shame me for being a white man, but it took a lot of people to help me understand that I did owe the universe my thanks for giving me a life that was a little easier.

That is not to say that my life doesn’t come with hardships. Still, I faced fewer obstacles and had more opportunity than most of the human beings alive today, much less those throughout history. Fewer than half the humans in the world today have access to the internet; I carry it in my pocket. That’s pretty sweet.

My life has not been all luck; I’ve studied hard and juggled a lot of responsibilities to get where I am. I still do. I’ve still had so many advantages, and I know that statistically, there must have been many people smarter and more dedicated than myself, born in the same decade, who never even learned to read. Someone with Hawking-like potential who are now sustenance farmers or menial laborers, who never had the access to resources that I have. I want to change that, not because there is anything wrong with farming, if that is fulfilling to you, but because we will never know what those people would have done given the choice to be mathematicians or scientists.

That’s what I mean by “Unearned Privilege”.

So, I do talk about privilege and I am not scared to do so. It is a privilege to be smart, educated, and healthy. It is a privilege to be white, male, and straight, too. Some of the inherent unfairness cannot be fixed; there are people who don’t have good health and as far as we know, that’s inescapable. Some of it, though, can be changed; we can make the world more fair regarding race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Because I am thankful for my privilege, I want to solve what can be solved to make the world more fair.It just seems like an obvious expression of my appreciation.

I talk about privilege and try to help people understand the issues. My hope is to do it without shame for inherent conditions, though I will examine how you act so that I can encourage  your growth and education. I do so because I need you, if you can be convinced to join me. I do that because I need all the help I can get to change the world; because I need the world to change.

I don’t know how someone like me can really understand the issue and not be grateful; I don’t know how one can be grateful and not want to work for justice.


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