The Moral Duty of Personal Privilege

I’m a privileged, white male, living in the First World.

I’m healthy, fairly handsome, heterosexual, highly educated, well-read, well-travelled, gainfully employed, and financially secure. In the modern societal understanding of success, I’ve got everything.

As a demographic, white males have the highest odds to “succeed” in life – by a large margin. By default, we start off in an extremely advantageous position – the best any human could hope for in our modern world.

Although I work hard, I cannot ever take full credit for the success I’ve enjoyed. I acknowledge that I have always had an advantage. I also acknowledge that this advantage is unfair. It wasn’t earned through my own volition, merely a serendipitous result of the genetic (and geographic) lottery.

I recognize that my position affords me great power, and that with power comes a responsibility to help my fellow humans. I was blessed with extremely good fortunes, and therefore, I feel a duty to ensure my privileged situation isn’t wasted on selfish endeavours.

To help create more justice and equality in our world, I – as a privileged, white male – have three objectives:

  1. First, I must try to listen. I recognize that I can never fully understand life without my own privilege. I understand that every time someone different from me has something to say – regardless of whether or not I agree – it is imperative that I respect their opinion and give them all the time and freedom they need to express themselves.
  2. Second, I must seek to understand and sympathize. Although I can never fully understand life without my privilege, I must try my best to understand the lives and mental paradigms of less privileged people.
  3. Third, I must act. After listening, understanding, and sympathizing, I must take action. I must take full advantage of my position in order to affect positive change. I’m not sure what that change may look like – hopefully time will tell.

As a white male, I must be willing to give up personal advantage, make myself more vulnerable, and accept some loss of power. This is very difficult to do, even for me. As the old saying goes: “When you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

As an aside, I apologize for the privileged, white males, unable or unwilling to relinquish their power. Furthermore, I’m sorry for the privileged, white males who pretend (and/or believe) that they have no power to relinquish. I’m not claiming to be innocent of this, but at least I’m willing to attempt honesty and personal change for the sake of justice.

But in order to change I need help. So please – humans of all races, genders, classes, and creeds – show me, in a loving way, how I can be part of the solution. Give me books to read, documentaries to see, people to meet, places to visit, and ideas to consider. I want to see the world through your eyes.

I’m a privileged, white male, living in the West. I recognized that the world isn’t fair, and I want to do everything I can to help.