How does one spell privilege, anyway? Sometimes I want to add a ‘d’ to give it a little more drudgery.
Privilege : a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor : PREROGATIVE especially : such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office
What separates privilege from blessings?
I can certainly say that life has been interesting for my family. There have definitely been periods of trial. I’ve written before about my Dad, who died three years ago this month. Growing up with schizophrenia and tardive-dystonia in my home presented many challenges. My parents raised six children. There was always enough to go around. When the state required my dad to move out, things got harder. But new opportunities presented themselves at just the right time.
I asked my mother the other day about the free school lunch program. This helped us out a lot. Mom applied when I (the oldest) was in Jr. High. All I wanted to eat were Little Debbie’s Nutty Bars. I’d like to say I was greatful for real food, but I have a hard time remembering any…though I doubt the school would have let me eat solely Nutty Bars for lunch. I think I had to find my own money for those.
After high school, there was a one year period before I could leave for a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I found two jobs. One working for Eddie Bauer as a stock associate. The other working for Boston Market, where I moved from the front-line staff to cook staff. The great thing about Boston Market was bringing home food for my family. Before I left for my mission my sister got a job there. She continued bringing things home for everyone else. This was more than 20 years ago, but I still remember the meatloaf and the creamy spinach (yum!)…and the smell on my blue oxford shirts from cleaning the chicken ovens (yuck!).
I was proud to go to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk for the family from own pocket funds. I was also happy to drive to Naperville, Illinois to the closest Bishop’s Storehouse to pick up food orders for my family (25 mile drive). I got to be a contributing member of society. I also got to participate in something called ‘consecration’.
I’m writing about these hard times from my fancy home with my fancy dual-monitor computer setup. I’ve been working from home for the last six weeks or so due to COVID-19, aka the Coronavirus. I work for Motorola Solutions, who is a service provider for many, many essential government, medical, and utility functions.
My children started school from home. I upgraded the family computer and picked up a second one. I upgraded our modem and router. Today I’ve started looking into an MBA program with tuition reimbursement available from my company. I’ve also re-arranged my office and finally started a hobby, doing small electronics repairs and upgrades.
I built some raised garden beds and my wife and kids helped set them up. The seeds and starts will be going in soon. Our life will be a bit different from how it’s been. A few more weeks and school from home will be over, not a moment too soon for Amanda, who’s been challenged to keep Ben on task (he’s in third grade) almost every single day.
I’ve been following the Universal Basic Income discussion on Twitter. There is lots of discussion about privilege. There are statistics and theories and demands and hopes and prayers. Most of the time there is not judgement of leadership, which is impressive, but that’s been fading as people have been looking to Congress and The White House for solutions. Keeping calm and paying attention to them is going to be hard, I tell you what. There’s also a good bit of talk about Oligarchy – the ruling class of rich people.
I don’t feel like a rich person by any means. But if I contrast my coronavirus experience with my growing up years, I cannot deny the difference. I struggle to see how what I’m doing now could possibly be a ‘consecration’. I have empathy for the people who have been asked not to work. I wish for them to be well.
Consecration is the giving of one’s time, talents, and energies to building something of importance. Through diverse circumstances I was able to give something to my family through my work. On one level I was doing hard work, on another I was building a stronger connection with my loved ones, on a third I was providing for basic needs. Doing these things provided me with self-esteem, and that made it easier for me to want to continue to do those things forever.
I glossed over the last twenty years, but I could sum it up as a long period of consecration through hard work. Many church callings, a few forced moves, and a lot of prayers. Today’s consecrations are harder to see, but the blessings are obvious. I want to always be a person who consecrates. One who gives time, talents, and energy to things that matter. Family. Faith. Community. It is a great privilege to give. I hope teenage me looks at today me and sees a work in progress, moving in the right direction.