I am a white, heterosexual male. Sometimes, I’m a Christian (mostly when I’m desperate). I’m about to graduate from college and (hopefully) go on to graduate school. I tell you this, because I have an announcement to make:
I’m tired of talking about privilege.
Just not in the way you think. I’ve talked about it in a large number of my classes from history to sociology to psychology and beyond. I know I have it. I’m familiar with its origins. I’ve studied its effects. I know I owe someone, somewhere, something for the fact that I’ve done very little to fight it. I’ve had those discussions.
They’re not what I’m tired of. I’m tired of people in those discussions (people like me) who refuse to acknowledge that they have what I have: privilege. They don’t want to admit that they may not have completely earned their place in the world. So, instead of trying to help people with real problems they spend their time ignoring the cause of those problems.
I know, on some level, they acknowledge that they have privilege. They make memes online about “First World Problems” (which, by the way, was originally phrased as “white people problems”) and, with a wink and a nudge, admit that other people have it worse than they do. But, they don’t acknowledge that their culture is the reason those people have it worse. Moreover, even as they acknowledge that they have very little reason to complain in comparison to other people they keep complaining. They whine. They gripe. They bitch: about stupid, useless shit in their lives that no one else really cares about.
Now, when I say “they,” I actually mean “we.” I’m one of them. I whine. I gripe. I bitch: about stupid, useless shit in my life that no one else really cares about. I know that I do this. I hate that I do this. Now I’m going to do something about it.
Remember that part in the beginning where I said I was a Christian when I was desperate? Now is one of those times. Lent starts tomorrow. This year (for the first time since I was roughly eleven), I’m going to give up something: bitching. For the next forty days I’m going to try not to complain about personal shit in my life that doesn’t matter. Instead, I’m going to listen to other people talk about their problems and try to fix them.
I’m not asking you to agree or disagree with the reasons behind this decision. Frankly, I don’t care what you think. I want to do this because (for once in my life) I’m going to try to be a more tolerable person. All I’m asking is that, if you see me and I complain, you call me on it.