Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer

Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer
They sent me here just to watch...

Monday, June 22, 2020

American Privilege

I hear the words white privilege and know that in many cases in America it is present.  I don’t buy that the condition is ubiquitous, but prevalent is surely a viable assessment.  Many are in shock when I state that such privilege can be put to work for good, to bring glory to God and help our fellow brothers and sisters.

Too many mock God and insist that we must repent of our skin color.  God will not be mocked so don’t look for me in that club though the membership is growing daily.

Now, I’m really going to get under the skin of many of varied hues.  I will tell you that there is American privilege.  If you are American, the chances are that you are privileged regardless of the color of your skin.  You—we—have so much more than the rest of the world just because we are Americans.

Better food, housing, education, transportation, acceptance, respect, and much more just because we are American.  We may or may not have worked for this somewhere along the way.  We may or may not have deserved this, but it is there.  Not every person outside of our country loves us, but they love what we have—opportunity, in addition to the other previously listed blessings.

Most people in the world, at least the ones not sworn to destroy us, envy what we have.  We are privileged and most don’t even know it.  American privilege is real.

And yes, we have wealth.  We are rich and I mean almost all of us compared to half the world or more.  Do you know what a privilege—let’s say blessing—it is to have running water that comes inside our homes? Do you know what it is to travel coast to coast without government-approved endorsements?

Do you know what it is like to speak your mind and the most you will see in retaliation are some hateful comments.  You don’t end up in prison.

Do you know what a privilege it is to have health care services that we can complain about instead of wishing we had something more than a clinic that serviced two million people.

Do you know what a privilege it is to be able to travel to most of the globe, even to countries that are not America’s best friends, just because you are American.

American privilege is real but not the topic of the month.  It’s not popular because one group of Americans can’t point their finger at another group and say they have it or we don’t or combinations thereof.  Just about every single American enjoys privilege.

The question posed before us is the same one I pose for white privilege.  If it’s real and you have it, what will you do with it?

Will you divest yourself of it?

Will you use it only for your own needs?

Will you bury it in the ground?

Will you put it to work at once for the glory of God. 

Don’t feel guilty about privilege.  You didn’t earn it.  It was given to you. 

Do with it what you would do with other gifts.  If someone gave you $10 million, would you refuse it?  Would you use it only for your own selfish needs and desires?  Would you bury it in the ground?
Would you put it to work for the glory of God?

Privilege is not merit.  Merit is about earning more.  Privilege is granted based upon who you are or who your group is.  The question is, what do we do with it?

I have experienced white privilege.  I have also experienced increased danger because of my skin color.  When you come out of a building in the Middle East and see someone you don’t know leaving your vehicle in a hurry when they see you, you break out that telescopic mirror and make three laps around your vehicle instead of the usual one.  Your senses peak and your look for anything out of place.

You can live with a knocking sound in the engine.  Sounds that go boom are unforgiving. 

I know what it is to be singled out for my skin color.  When you are one of two white men in a community of almost two million black people, some point at you.  Some fathers bring their sons out to show you to them.  You are different and a rarity. 

There is usually no hostility.  When you walk down a street in these places, you will attract attention from the less than friendly element.  All is not just the uniqueness of a white man in western Kenya.

So, I have known privilege and I have known danger, and I have been singled out for my race. 

I have been singled out for being an American. I never desired to be worshiped so when I was, it was somewhat unnerving.  I was in Kuwait City shopping at the outdoor market set up by the Iranians that came across the gulf with nuts and other items of interest.  Suddenly, I was surrounded by dozens of women making all sorts of unfamiliar noises and waving their arms at be in something of a bowing motion. 

They were Kurds.  American forces had saved thousands of Kurds from Saddam.  They saw the American flag on my left shoulder.  The United Nations patch on my right shoulder was ornamental to them.  The American flag drew much attention and extremely favorable attention.

If you have white privilege, use it for the glory of God.

If you have American privilege, use it for the glory of God.

If you are privileged because you were born into or inherited wealth, use it for the glory of God.

Here is a little something I know about privilege.  As a commissioned officer I had head of the line privileges in most places on base.  Seldom did I exercise them but they were there and sometimes you needed to be in three places at once and you did use your privilege.

That same privilege applies in the field training exercise or in combat, but officers just don’t use it.  When Marines receive hot chow in the field, it’s a big thing.  Officers eat last because sometimes the chow runs out.  It is a privilege to eat last.

It’s time to take off the blinders that those who wish to generate and maintain hate have placed on us.  There is white privilege.  There is white profiling—mostly overseas.  There is American privilege that is much more pervasive than anything based on skin color.  There is American profiling. 

Many factors in our lives give us privilege and advantage.  Some of those same things come with existential risks attached.  That’s life, but what do we do with privilege, advantage, danger, risk, and so many other things that we receive in the course of a lifetime.

The question remains, what will we do with what we have and what we will be given?

Refuse it?  Use it selfishly?  Bury it in the ground?

Put it to work for the glory of God!

The only answer with any efficacy in reconciling one to another is to put it to work for the glory of God.

No comments:

Post a Comment