Amy and Ella, in full snob mode, were complaining about the canned chili we were eating. The chili was the last of the stock of canned soups we had purchased at the start of the COVID food shortage scare. I told them, “You guys are acting like you’re refugees who had to kill a wild coyote with your bare hands and cook it with matches.” They didn’t argue.
I’m guessing the killing of a wild coyote would be labeled a privileged activity. After all, it means one has possession of firearms, the patience to track a coyote, skill to shoot it once it comes into range, and the ability to not be questioned re: whether one is waiting for the remake of Gunsmoke in the middle of a city park. I did mention killing the coyote with your bare hands, so that is, I think, an extra point in the skill column and a simultaneous reduction in privilege.
Then, again, how does one learn the proper hand position? How does one secure the coyote’s body whilst applying pressure, and to where does one apply pressure? How does one make sure to adjust one’s grip to ensure that the neighbors don’t assume a pop star is being strangled as death cries fly from the dying coyote’s chords? Seems one must have received instruction from a willing and available teacher, which smacks of privilege.
We’re not all born in the middle of a bountiful harvest of golden wheat, but some are. Perhaps one had the initiative to find one’s own harvest, to seek out a teacher, trekking for miles over treacherous ground, which means one had the privilege of healthy, strong legs and a determined mind.
Unless one is born from Mother Nature herself in the middle of a floating stew of all the biological elements that comprise a human, one has privilege of some kind.
Outside of science fiction, I can think of no one who had to instantly learn to breathe and swim and survive spontaneous spawning atop the depths of the stew. Imagine that: you crack open your eyes; you know nothing; you see nothing except your own nakedness and vulnerability, and if you don’t figure it out, you’re dead. Of course, you don’t know you’re naked or vulnerable. You don’t know there’s anything to figure out, any danger to avoid.
You know nothing.
Even Mowgli had the wolves–and Bagheera.
If you are alive and able to read and understand this, someone, something, some institution tied a life vest to your body long before you ever drew breath, or placed you in a basket before a den of wolves who, despite their nature, had no taste for human flesh.
I have privilege. You have privilege. My privilege is from my village, my heritage. Yours is from yours. But we all have it nonetheless because we did not drown in the stew.
Do refugees have the privilege of possessing well-oiled rifle stock? The ability to waste ammunition practicing at a firing range? Based on what I’ve read in The Economist lately, some refugees could use any street in their hometowns as a firing range, and no one would look strangely at them. It’s sad, not good.
Is it privilege? I can’t open my door and trigger a blast.
We just spent hundreds of dollars on upholstery material, foam cushions, and craft batting to construct a cush window seat in our bedroom. Our bed is three feet away and comfortable in its own right, as we recently spent several hundred dollars replacing the comforter and acquiring thousands (you read right) of throw pillows. They cascade over the duvet like waves breaking on the San Louis Obispo Beach.
Do we need the extra throw pillows? Does anyone need throw pillows? Their very name tells you to fling them away from your person as though they contained rattlesnakes. Could be. This is only my recommended action to take if someone comes around who is jealous of you having throw pillows, where they only have used tea bags. Hard to tell.
They say not to judge people.
I don’t know anyone else’s world or anyone else’s mind or anyone else’s journey, but I can empathize, and I hope that a lot of you are swimming out of the stew and making plans to shop for throw pillows.