When we talk about The Privileged in the United States of America, some of us get defensive. We explain that we’ve earned what we have. We’ve built the lives we lead. We have worked hard to get where we are.
But the truth is that most of what we have is a result of winning the genetic lottery, being born into certain families, and having a leg up in terms of wealth, health, and opportunities. Show me a person with an excellent education living in a great neighborhood and I’ll show you a person blessed with advantages that most likely gave him/her a head start.
I am especially aware of our privilege on my vacation – from where I write this today. Last night, I was feasting my eyes on 11 healthy kids (with two more healthy kids at home) from the porch of a lovely ocean-side “cottage” that sleeps 23 people, enjoying daily meals that – for most people in the world – would be once-in-a-lifetime feasts. Taking it all in, our enormous privilege was tangible.
All of our kids have the opportunity to go to college. All of them have gone to excellent high schools because of where we are able to live. All of us have passports marked with interesting stamps. We drive cars that work. We get paid vacations. We have health insurance.
We are privileged. But how do we respond to this privilege? That question begs many others:
- Can we live privileged lives and truly follow Jesus?
- How much of our wealth are we willing to share so that others can live in safety and comfort?
- Do we believe in a zero sum game when it comes to our way of life? (i.e. There is a limited amount of wealth, so if others have more, we will have less?)
- Do we want as many as possible to have what we have?
Some of us believe our stuff will save us. And some of us say we believe that Jesus saves us, but we still depend on our stuff. And a very few of us trust Jesus with all we have and are.
What I believe is that everybody should have the kind of vacation we are having this week, with plenty of rest and food, surrounded by people who love us.