I am privileged! I know it! There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about white privilege and I’ve had a lot of discussion with family and friends about it and continue to reflect on how I have been privileged in my life. I am grateful.
I am grateful that I grew up in a family in the central part of Michigan with a twin sister and seven other siblings. I am grateful that my father worked at a refinery in Alma and that my mother was a home-maker, always there. I am grateful that I grew up on a farm where we learned to work hard, study hard, pray, and work together for the good of the family.
I am grateful for the friends who were Hispanic, African American, Native American, Irish, Hungarian, Polish, Slovakian, German, French, Italian and English. We played together, went to school together, went to church together, and visited each other’s homes. The biggest difference between us was that some of us were Catholic and others were Protestant. Another difference was that some of us were “town” kids and some of us were “country” kids. Some of our fathers and mothers were professionals and some of them worked in factories or on the farm. None of that seemed to matter much. We all had what we needed, at least I thought so.
I was privileged to be baptized, receive Holy Communion, go to confession, and be confirmed. I am privileged to meet, date, marry, have children, and have a wonderful life with Mary Jo. I was privileged to have both a public and religious education and have had two great and satisfying careers.
I had great in-laws who were Catholic Christian and made the family the center of their lives. They accepted me as their own. Like our parents, Mary Jo and I make our children the center of our lives and have worked for their success in all that we do. I hope they feel privileged, too.
Now I am confronted with “white privilege.” It seems that a major part of my success is the result of being white. I think there is some truth to that, but it is not the whole truth. God shows no partiality. Our success is hinged on being “christian privileged.” All of our lives we have strived to live as Jesus and the Bible teach, work hard and long, and take advantage of opportunities. No one’s success depends only on race, but on choice, hard work, and character. There will always be differences among people because God seems to like variety. I long for a time when race will have no influence on success. The greatest privilege in my life has been that of knowing, loving and serving God. We are all siblings, with God as our Father, and Jesus our brother. That sibling-hood transcends our differences, or at least it should.
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his light shine upon you and give you his peace.”