The living know a privilege the dead no longer do. And if the ancient Greek historian Herodotus is right (“Call no man happy till he is dead”), the dead enjoy an under-appreciated but inevitable mirror privilege.

We resolutely continue to reproduce in the face of a world seemingly ever more uncertain as a cradle for life. How can we balance both privileges and also (peace, Hunger Games) odds increasingly not in our favor? Possible answers abound, many of them very old, some discarded, some revived, a few hoisted as banners, or burnt on street corners, excoriated on Twitter, or — of course — all of the above. How can we test them for validity, utility — or compassion?

A healthy person, privileged by good genes or birth in the right body or borough, blessed by careful diet and exercise, pure dumb luck or divine gift, enjoys a privilege her sick double may long for and envy each weary day. Medicine, unevenly available or efficacious, may or may not redress the named injustice of it all.

Animals all around us, subject to ecosystems fine-tuned over millennia, spawn, hatch, are born, devour each other and die, in carefully interlocking patterns of privilege and disadvantage balanced by contingencies both evolutionary and reshaped by human presence.

The very characters of our myths and stories, movies and daydreams, often laze in privilege, vie for it, abandon it all for love or destiny or despair, shuffle their cards one way or another and start over again, or bow before their uncaring fate. We earn and forfeit it, find comfort in promises of future rebalancing, accuse and suffer and strive to comprehend. We are born in or out of it, notice or ignore it, act from or against it, minimize or maximize its effects, in the scant few years we have between entering and leaving this world.

What is it about the word or its shifting referents that’s made it recently so toxic in the West, so raw and troubling? Do we really need to ask?! Is there anything anyone can say about it right now without someone else disagreeing?! And doesn’t that give us our diagnosis — and prognosis, too?

Two hands, a heart, a mind, and time still ahead of me. Work to do.

Posted 18 July 2015 by adruidway in Druidry, ecosystem, privilege

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