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My Favorite Definition of Privilege

By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
Jul 31, 2016
4.8 ·
4
My Favorite Definition of Privilege

My favorite definition of privilege is 'thinking something's not a problem because it's not a problem to you.'

This is embodied most poignantly to me by the fact that most people in our culture consider activism to be optional- something they can take part in or not, like bowling or biking, rather than something essential or necessary.

The thing that I see uniting many people across privilege and oppression intersections is the cultural tendency for individuals, when facing a personal problem, to seek individual solutions, not collective ones.

This is just a large part of the population - whether privileged and insulated from so many problems, or oppressed and just trying to get by and survive within the logic of the system.

This belief in seeking individual solutions seems to be the reigning ideology in our society.

I'm thankful for the people who are rejecting this logic - both the underprivileged who become activists as a matter of survival as well as the privileged, who have enough empathy to fight for a cause that may not directly impact them. They see that belief is illusion. The suffering of others does impact them and it compels them to action.

Long story short- kudos to everyone who chooses to be an activist and rejects the ideological hegemony of Western society, which benefits from us all being apathetic.

All power goes to the people that see their personal happiness and security is bound up with all people meeting their common needs for happiness and security.

Our liberation will come from personally recognizing this truth within ourselves.

When facing a problem or seeing others face a problem - we don't just worry about individual fixes - we seek collective ones.

There is unity in recognizing that your problems and my problems are one and the same.

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Films For Action was founded in 2006 by a few friends in Lawrence, Kansas, after realizing how essential a healthy media is to a healthy democracy.

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“Independent media is dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves. And when you hear someone speaking from their own experience - whether it's a Palestinian child or an Israeli grandmother or an uncle in Afghanistan or a refugee in the Calais refugee camp - it changes you. It breaks the sound barrier. It challenges the stereotypes and the caricatures that fuel the hate groups. You may not agree with what you hear - I mean, how often do we even agree with our family members? - but you begin to understand where they're coming from. That understanding is the beginning of peace. I really do think that the media can be the greatest force for peace on Earth. Instead, all too often, it is wielded as a weapon of war. We have to take the media back.” - Amy Goodman, Place to B at COP21