Friday, November 18, 2011

The problems of privilege (a pre-thanksgiving post)

Of recent date I have had some occasion to complain about my life. You know, because I have real problems, like tests, group projects, people not wanting to secure and clean the church, having to apply for internships, and figuring out how to get home for the holidays. In essence, my life, which is approximately better than than lives of at least 99% of the world's population, is just chalk full of problems.
This has caused me to reflect some on the problems of privilege. The problems we have are problems other people would kill for the opportunity to have and often I don't think we, myself especially, take enough time to enough time to really consider what our problems say about how privileged we are. Let's take those problems I listed at the beginning for example and see what the tell us about my privileges.
Problem #1: I have tests, and my tests are fairly difficult, I think. Particularly this last logic exam. So what does this tell me, well it tells me that I happen to be in academic setting at an age where most people have been in the full time work force for five years or more. It tells me I'm privileged with finances and intellect that allow me to even be taking tests at BYU, a school which by virtue of my getting in means others did not. Essentially this is actually not a problem at all, taking tests literally is a privilege. And the end result of that test which was a 96% is that I know that you can find God in the testing center.
Problem #2: Group projects. The big problem here is that I get upset when things aren't ready in a timely manner and I don't like being the leader because then I feel responsible. This problem of course implies some of the same privileges as the former one. But it also shows that I've been blessed with leadership skills that put me in charge as referenced in an earlier post. Ultimately an increase in responsibility is directly coordinated with an increase in agency which is the power of the gods, so really probably shouldn't complain about this one either.
Problem #3: people not wanting to secure and clean the church. Well this really is a problem, but it been getting better. But even this problem says a lot about my privileges. The first one is that I have a calling, which is nice because it keeps me engaged in the Lord's work, by implication this tells me that I am a member of the restored church of Jesus Christ which is probably the greatest privilege of all and it was just handed to me by being born in the right place. That being said the fact that I am trying to fulfill my calling tells me I have a testimony of my own which is a great privilege. Also, my ability to communicate with others to get the work done not only shows the development of interpersonal skills but also my affluent position in technology. Really while this may be a problem the fact that its here at all highlight a position of privilege.
Problem #4: Having to apply for internships. No this one has been taking a lot of time and added a lot of stress to my life. But really, lets face it, I asked for it. And it is an extreme privilege to be part of the Washington Seminar program for spring summer. I was one of only 45 people selected for thee program out of a record number of applicants. This is truly a blessing and when I'm not thinking about the workload right now but about the experiences of next summer I get really excited. I was also blessed to receive a spot in the BYU housing there which is a huge blessing without which I could not have gone. So again here's a problem that not just people far away 3rd world countries would want to have, but people right here at BYU would gladly take my spot in this problem.
Problem #5: Finding a way home for the holidays. So it can be a little frustrating to do this, but the truth is I am very blessed to have a family to go to for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and ways and means to figure out how to get there. And really the point of this next holiday is to be grateful. So that's the spirit I'm trying to get into in this post, yeah there are some hard things, but they only highlight those things that I should be thankful for. Maybe you have some problems to, maybe with a little harder look you can find out what privileges they come from.

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