You reap what you sow. Or at least, you used to. Now, apparently, you reap whatever mysteriously and magically falls into your lap – or so the "check your privilege" purveyors would have you believe.
It's not true. "Privilege," in today's popular guilt-ridden forms, is just an illegitimate slur defaming hard work, success, good behavior and the rewards thereof. "Privilege" is what they call innocent reality when they want it to look like a nefarious agenda. "Privileged" is what they call you when they don't have enough evidence to call you a racist, thieving oppressor, but they want you to feel like one anyway. "Privilege" is a hoax, intentionally or ignorantly conflating equality of opportunity with equality of outcome. At the same time, however, privilege is very real. Some of us have it; some of us don't. Some of us have more of it than others. There is no sense denying it. The hidden truth, though, is that privilege is not wrong. Privilege is, in fact, fair. It is the natural outcome of effort, ability, choice and time.
The passionate "social justice warriors" tell us that "privilege" is evil and oppressive and needs to be eradicated. They say a person's "privilege" is unfair, unearned and undeserved – but they're wrong.
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Privilege doesn't grow on trees. When it is not personally earned, it is often inherited. A child born into an upper-class family did nothing to earn his upper-class status, but his parents did. His parents earned it for him. Parents the world over strive for little more than to give their child a better life than they had and to shelter their child from as many of life's struggles as they possibly can by giving him a leg up every way they can manage it. What dishonor, what slander it is to call this child's head start "unearned privilege" when his parents broke their backs to give it to him. The parents who manage this feat are due respect; their children are not due shame.
What about "white privilege"? As "racist" as the critics paint it, this privilege also is earned and deserved. The catch is, much "white privilege" has nothing to do with race, but is actually majority privilege. If you can't find a Band-Aid in your skin color, that's called "supply and demand." Majority privilege means that the majority of goods and services and the majority of entertainment like literature, music and television, will be geared toward supplying the needs of the majority and satisfying the typical interests of the majority. By becoming the majority and staying the majority, the majority has earned and is logically and rightfully due the benefits of being such. This is a universal privilege, seen in countries all over the world, and there is nothing wrong with having it.
The type of privilege more often thought badly of is the "white privilege" of not being eyed as a potential shoplifter, or not being shunned by passersby crossing to the other side of the street at night, or not being noted suspiciously by police. However, this privilege is legitimate as well and can be easily understood by comparing it to what can be called "female privilege."
We are all aware that women are less likely to commit crimes or to start fights than men are. Therefore, as is obviously logical, women are eyed less cautiously by police, vulnerable passersby, business owners and cashiers. We women benefit from the common perception we're the more peaceable, "gentler sex." Our collective behavior over time has earned us this trust, this "privileged" treatment.
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For reasons too inflammatory to discuss in polite society, white persons are statistically less likely to commit most crimes than are persons of most other races – notably blacks and Hispanics. Therefore, just as women are eyed less cautiously, whites are also eyed less cautiously at times. The higher level of scrutiny thus imposed on others is a reaction to the higher levels of criminality among those races. This is just as unfortunate and personally unfair to the innocent bulk of blacks and Hispanics as it is to the innocent bulk of men. Nevertheless, to ignore reality is unreasonable, and starry-eyed political correctness does not change reality. Our "white privilege" in this regard is nothing more than the overarching reputation earned over the years by a greater proportion of whites being generally law-abiding. Far from being an unfair bias, it is a privilege truthfully earned by our community, both past and present.
But too many social activists today are not interested in discovering the reasons why some people and groups succeed – both economically and socially – and others fail. They are only interested in pointing out the differences, pointing fingers and "closing the gaps" by any means necessary. The charge of "privilege" is a slander against reality and an underhanded attempt to use false guilt to manipulate successful people into "redistributing" their wealth from their own children to other people's children, and to use false shame to sabotage the morale of people who have done nothing wrong.
Don't buy the guilt trip. Whether personally earned, inherited, a benefit of being the majority, or the effect of a communally earned reputation, "privilege" is nothing to be ashamed of. It is rather a reward of effort, ability and good behavior an individual, a family, a community and a people can be proud of. The next time someone tells you that you have "privilege," take it as a compliment.