A lot of people struggle with that word — because they have struggled. If life wasn’t easy for you, you don’t think of yourself as “privileged.” But it’s likely you were, compared to some.
Here’s another video of “step forward, step back” exercise:
Privilege is not about whether or not you’ve achieved success or not. It’s about the rules you were required to play under. It’s about acknowledging who got a head start — and who didn’t. Who got their wheels greased — and who’s riding on a rusty chassis.
It’s not about shaming you for having privilege — it’s about making you aware, which is the first step to creating the empathy we need to understand the experiences of others in relation to our own. We don’t often get a chance to walk a mile in another’s shoes for real. But listening to someone else’s experience can create real change inside ourselves and in our world.
There is no harm in acknowledging someone else’s pain. And there often is harm when we choose not to be aware.
Herds (and tribes) exist for a reason. They are the social construct that allows all to be greater than the sum of their parts. We can collect, use and develop resources more efficiently in groups. And we can certainly protect ourselves more effectively.
It’s not until we set aside our own interests and start to act in the best interests of the group that we can really do anything. On our own, it’s a great big world with many obstacles and challenges that can’t be overcome by the individual. If we leave others behind, we are likely going to hurt ourselves.
Here’s a real life example of water buffalo behaving heromindedly – taking care of the weakest – faced with a herd of hunting lions and a hungry crocodile. First, the lions are working together to have lunch. Then the water buffalo work together. Watch and see…
Seeking to build the largest tribe possible is the goal. But it’s not always possible to keep everyone in the tribe.
So when is it time to put someone outside of the tribe?
When they attack the weak or refuse to protect them. Or when they show that they are only willing to look out for themselves. Our social instincts are in place to challenge us to do better for each other. We don’t admire the selfish (usually) – and when we do, we are acting counter to our own best interests and those of the group. It takes the power of a collaborative group for us all to thrive.
Mohammed Ayub saw a need – children too poor to attend school in a country with the highest illiteracy rate in the world. And he met their need. Sacrificing his own funds and time he could be doing paid work, he created a school in the park. Change is embodied in the efforts of people doing whatever they can that steer the ship in a new direction. He helps people survive better and his students become teachers. Hero Minded actions are infectious.
Who’s that person in your life that inspired you to think of others before (or at least in addition to) yourself? Did they lead by example? Who looked out for you in a surprising way?
I’ve always been able to rely on family. We’re not perfect, but we’re pretty darn great. I know not everyone gets to have that security – and it can be incredibly painful when family lets you down. Because that’s about the least amount of social evolution you can have – so it’s a travesty to neglect looking out for one’s children, siblings, parents. Continue reading Everyone Knows a HeroI’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours→
Obstacles can do two things in our lives. They can beat us down and make us into a resentful, selfish villain – always complaining about what we didn’t get, grabbing for whatever we can take from the world. Or challenges can make us Hero Minded – as we leap over them and build our strengths and empathy.
We create laws in the effort to solve the problem of selfishness infringing on the autonomy of others. We want to make the world a fairer and safer place. Laws are usually coupled with punishment when they’re broken. Sometimes there are better ways to solve the problem and accomplish the goal, if we continue to remember the goal is a fairer and safer world. Continue reading A Better Kind of JusticePolicing Without Punishment→