This week I’m trying something different. There will be a series of guest blogposts every other day from a good friend doing amazing work. I met Mo through Seth Godin’s Akimbo workshops – two aid workers in marketing workshops. Odd, but also instant connection. We’ve never met in person, but every time we talk I’m left pondering for over a week. Today is me (amos)
My darling children,
The world is unfair. You often tell me that and it is true. The world is unequal and unjust and the evidence is all around us. Here in 2021 the COVID vaccine is being rolled out, which is great news. And yet highlights the unfairness of the world. At this moment, we live in the UK and will likely get the vaccine sometime this year. We will receive it long before teachers and medical staff of Zambia, Central African Republic, Papua New Guinea and many other countries. And we will, not because we are more important or do more important jobs, but because we are privileged and the world is not fair.
We won the postcode lottery with where we were born and the colour of our skin. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, this remains true. You are privileged more than you realise. But here’s the thing – while it is important to recognise it, you don’t have to feel shame about it. Privilege comes with choice and responsibility. We can choose to believe that it our right, something we are entitled to, something we deserve. Or we can choose to use our privilege for others.
I know you never met Grandma. But her and Grandpa taught me “Everyone puts their trousers on one leg at a time.” A funny saying I know. You would laugh about it back in 2021. But it was their way of teaching me to respect and treat people the same – from the janitor to the CEO. Privilege is not an entitlement, it is a gift. And gifts are given to us for the benefit of the community, not just ourselves.
So what do we do with this privilege we have, that we grew up with and do not know life without? I’ll leave you with a few ideas:
- Know that you are loved and learn to love yourself deeply. It’s a weird place to start, but as I age, I realise how important this is. When we love and accept ourselves – the good, the bad, the ugly – we become more ‘comfortable in our own skin’. It impacts so much of our lives and our interactions with the world. Self-acceptance and self-love might just be the most important thing we do.
- Develop deep friendships with people who don’t look like us and listen to their stories. Learn to see the world as others experience it. True empathy is hard, but essential.
- Listen, listen, listen. Without judgement. And then ask questions so you can listen again.
- Create space for others who don’t look like you. Share the space you have, your platform, your ‘stage’. Use the privilege you have to enable the voices of others to be heard.
- Choose to be quiet at times so others can speak. Invite others to speak first.
And two more thoughts. Choosing to use your privilege to benefit others can be hard as at times people won’t like you and other times you will want the spotlight. Expect this. Plan for it. Using your privilege in this way does not mean you need to become a ‘doormat’ for others. This is why number 1 is so important.
Secondly, Z you have even greater privilege than E. You are a man. We have extra responsibility. And E, you are a woman. Both of you will have learned things about what roles you ‘should’ play in society from Mum and Dad, other family members, and world in which we live. Roles can be questioned.
I love you to space and back and I am proud of you. I still can’t believe I get to be your Dad.
Great letter Amos; a gift for your children