Before I even begin to express my feelings, I have to make one thing clear.
No matter who you are or where you’re from, the only people that are truly privileged in this life, are those that understand that pineapple is ok to have on pizza, and that fry sauce is one of the essential food groups in the Celestial Kingdom. Their lives will be blessed and prosperous.
If you don’t agree . . . well, I guess I can just wish the best of luck to you. You’re definitely going to need it.
Unfortunately, privilege does not just boil down to our food preferences. That would make life a little easier, and simpler.
It is a topic of debate in almost every social aspect of our lives.
Race. Gender. Ability. Social Class. Education. Location. Family Type. Personality.
I do not intend to take a side on how much “privilege” there is in society, or to what extent it affects people’s lives.
Nor is this a political statement, or even expression of my ideas on how our society works.
Rather, it’s a reminder of a MAJOR responsibility that a lot of us forget in our daily lives as investigating, new, and faithful members of Christ’s church.
And don’t worry, I’ll leave the pineapple on pizza debate out of this . . . for now.
The reality of “privilege” in today’s world
Regardless of your beliefs or political affiliations, it’s important to recognize that privilege (notice I did not mention what kind) absolutely exists in our society.
Over Labor Day weekend, I was able to enjoy a hike with my dad, siblings, uncle, and few cousins. It was a beautiful hike on a beautiful day. Plus, it was an already necessary break from school.
I can name at least 10 people who do not have the same opportunity as I do to enjoy such a hike because they are wheelchair-bound. I can name at least 10 more who never had the chance to even go to school because their family needed them to work to help support the family.
These situations were truly out of their control. Some people are just born in better situations. Some people have it easier going in life in some ways, and others in other ways.
Privilege is not inherently bad, or good. It just is. It exists in the world around us.
Yet, for so many, the word “privilege” triggers strong emotions.
Some find it outrageous to think that they have some sort of leg up in life because they think it is an attack on their hard work and character. Others find it depressing, almost as a sign that they have no chance in the world.
This really isn’t a matter of who is right or wrong. Personally, I know that I can’t speak to anyone else’s life experience. All I can speak to is my own life experience.
I had parents who were always able to put food on the table. I got to enjoy almost any kind of sport or leisure activity in which I wanted to participate. I never had to worry that anyone would look at me and wonder if I really belonged where I was.
Then again, I am a white male, born in the USA. Is this the only qualification for privilege in this world?
Some would argue it is. Others still say privilege is a myth.
The irony is that to some extent, everyone is right and everyone is wrong.
The truth about “privilege”
In a world that is overflowing with opinion and contention, one basic eternal truth holds true.
Think back to our Primary days. What’s one of the first things that all of us learn to sing about? “I am a child of God, and He has sent me here.”
Or maybe you remember one of the first things you memorized.”We believe in God the Eternal Father…”
God is who? Our Father.
As children of God, everyone has the same potential to become like Him. Rich or Poor. Abled or Disabled. Man or Woman. White or Black.
Each and every one of us was placed in a different time and at a different place. No one situation is a greater expression of God’s love. In His eyes, all of us will always be equal.
Society may rage against us. We may not be able to attain a certain status. We may experience prejudice and hurt all around us. But we will always be loved by our Father in Heaven.
For this reason, those who believe privilege does not exist are kind of right. But they are also kind of wrong.
Think about it. If none of us experienced certain advantages in life, then wouldn’t the world look the same?
Maybe it is easier for a white male to succeed in this society. But I’m not sure God will care what social class you were a part of. What matters most to Him? You see, God intended for all of us to have different “privileges” in this life. He needed people of all shapes and sizes in order for the Plan to work.
I can work all I want to on how much I love, but I will never have the bond that a mother has with her children. He even promised some in the premortal life that they would receive the Gospel first. We call them the House of Israel.
The truth about privilege is that in one way or another, all of us experience it.
It’s not a matter to argue about, however. There’s already too much of that in the world. What we need are people who remember what disciples do with their privilege. We need servants of God who will recognize their sacred responsibility in this life.
The privilege of our Savior
I would argue that the most privileged person to ever walk the earth was our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In one sense, He didn’t have all the characteristics that would mark typical privilege in our society. He wasn’t born in a rich family. He did not hold any sort of high position in a political hierarchy.
But He was a Jew. To the Romans that meant nothing. To everyone else in Jerusalem, Galilee, and all the other surrounding areas, that meant everything.
However, His true privilege came as the Only Begotten Son of the Father. He had a perfect knowledge of God’s Plan. He was the only One who could bring about our salvation.
What did He do with His privilege?
To a woman ostracized because of her issue of blood, He openly declared in a crowd “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mark 5:34).
To a man “full of leprosy” and stripped of all social privilege because of his disease, while touching his diseased skin declared “I will: be thou clean” (Luke 5:12-13).
To a woman cast down and judged worthy of death because of her sin, He comforted “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).
Finally, He pleaded with the Father to “take away this cup from me,” but for every man, woman, and child who has been or will ever be born He lovingly and humbly submitted in this same prayer “nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).
His privilege was not a status He held over everyone else’s head. Nor was His lack of riches or social status (in the Jewish or Roman hierarchies) a reason for Him to give up.
Rather, He used His privileges as an opportunity to reach out to those who were in need of healing. Whether He sat with sinners and publicans, or he healed blind men stranded on the sides of streets, He recognized His need to love and to serve wherever He went.
His privilege was a tool in helping others find faith in Him as the Savior of the world.
Our sacred responsibility
Each week, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and always remember Him. This should not a passive promise, but an active way of life.
All of us were placed here at a specific time, in a specific place, and under specific circumstances, because God trusts us to be what He needs us to be.
Is it easier for some to thrive than others in this society? Sure. Are there injustices in how people treat others? Without a doubt. But will there ever be a time when everyone will be on an equal playing field? Absolutely. When Christ once again reigns personally upon the earth.
Until then it is our sacred responsibility as His disciples to be witnesses of Him. At all times. In all things. And in all places.
To prepare the world for our Savior’s Second Coming we need to recognize that all of us have something to offer that others do not. We need to recognize that EVERYONE is in need of love and support, and God placed people in our paths because we have the abilities to help them in ways that no one else could.
The common debate about privilege is all centered around how to be successful in this society but ignores everyone’s divine potential to become like God. Ultimately it doesn’t matter who is what gender, or race, or holds what job… All of us are loved by our Father in Heaven.
God intended privilege to be a tool, not an obstacle, in helping our families and our neighbors obtain Eternal Life, filled with joy and perfect happiness.
And fry sauce of course. Lots and lots of fry sauce.