Being in a Modern State of Privilege

After watching James Baldwin‘s words in honest and truthful language living and breathing in the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” I could not help but look at the state of being and becoming privileged. Being privileged is a state of mind, a state of how we view our personal worlds.

In the land of the free, by the mere fact that we live in America, we are privileged. Even our poor live a lifestyle of having cars and technical devices such as cell phones, tablets, flat screen televisions and internet access. We have high expectations of a quality lifestyle and we believe in our right of having our own individual “pursuit of happiness.”

We have freedom of speech, our constitutional and God given right to express our thoughts and feelings. We have the American Dream. The ability to come from a place of being poor to ultimately becoming rich is a possibility in a person’s lifetime.

We have the liberties to be seen, heard, nurtured in our journeys of the “pursuit of happiness,” and we have the duty to be accountable while being compassionate human beings in this modern society.

We have the framework in place to attain the American Dream, but do we have the integrity to execute the truth about why we need an American Dream? And can we truly understand the need for compassion to understand the heart of the matter or are we too lost in our modern ideals of being “privileged?”

Because we have the right of expression, it does not mean we can use that right to take the rights of others in the act of our own expression. We have become a society of “me instead of we.” My feelings, my wants and my rights are more important than yours. It is about me, me, and me. Our world, air, water, land, and sea is all shared by all of us on this planet and we are all present together in this universe. We have the privilege to be alive on this planet together. We cannot afford to live in a world where my life is more important than yours. Each and every one of our lives matter, respectively.

The reason I love the documentary about James Baldwin is that it begs the question of who is living in a state of being privileged and who is responding to the truth of how we are living as a people. We may be living in a land of the privileged, but we don’t have the privilege to enslave another human being, force them to sit in the back of the bus and ride with a smile on their face. There is nothing wrong with sitting in the back of the bus, unless it is the only place you are allowed to sit. If one of us is enslaved, then we are all enslaved as a people. We have been all granted the privilege of life.

It is our privilege to be alive in this modern world and be able to be a participant in it. On one hand we have more opportunities than our ancestors, but on the other hand, we are more isolated than our ancestors were. We are more isolated because of a lack of community and a lack of unity being acted out in our everyday modern lives. In true community, every person matters and every person has a purpose for being alive and living with their gift in the community, the tribe.