I have spent a good chunk of time this week reflecting on privilege and oppression in my life. One of the ideas I thought a lot about is the way privilege can accumulate – in some cases, privilege in one area creates opportunity to develop privilege in another.
The privilege that I have experienced in my life has shaped my view of the world as a beautiful place that holds the promise of good things, and my view that I have a role to play in changing the world, that I should spend my time trying, and that my efforts might pay off. I’m not so sure that I would see things the same way if I had more oppressing and fewer empowering experiences.
Whether it is privilege or something else (or most likely, a combination), I am big believer in Kennedy’s words:
“One person can change the world, and everyone should try.” -John F. Kennedy
At the end of my Alternative Spring Break trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico in February 2009, one of our closing exercises was to illustrate our commitment to community service and community service learning. In the context of the contribution we were able to make as a group, Kennedy’s words were the best thing I could think of to inspire- and that is just as true now as it was then.