The Privilege of Self-Improvement


Not that I’m the poster child for personal evolution and self-discovery, but I sure do feel privileged. Why? Because at  every point in my life when I had the urge to take a step into my unknown mysterious calling – whatever it was at the time – I could take it.

This rather obvious fact hit me over the head the other day. With privilege comes both time and money – both of which are quite helpful when we want to self-improve. Whether it is the Reiki training I suddenly felt called to, or the shamanic training I’ve received over the last ten years, or the hours spent across a table from a dear soul sister sorting through the latest spiritual bushwhacking we’ve participated in – I’ve been blessed.

Sure I work hard and sure I strive and toil – a fact which unites us all on some level. But a still, sun drenched winter morning spent with one of two Tarot decks at my disposal is within my realm of possibility. If I hear about a book that I know will kick my butt, or amuse me, or guide me to a door that needs opening, I buy it. If I have to head up to the mountain top that is my journeying spot, I head there (either in reality or otherwise).

Sure I’d like to travel to Greece and do a goddess tour, or to Italy to seek details of a past life – not every privilege is “easy” for everyone who is privileged, but I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to make these trips happen, as well as a week or two among the Celtic mysteries in Scotland and Ireland. Something to aspire to. And I can.

  • Because I don’t have to aspire to get my GED because I didn’t have to drop out of high school. I got a kick-ass education because I grew up assuming that was important and that I could. Even though I put myself through college and grad school, I consider that a privilege too. I knew how to support myself and had done so for 10 years by the time I was done with my education. And that is a kind of empowerment many uber-privileged children are denied. Things can come too easily, it turns out.
  • Because I was empowered enough to know I had choices. I did not have to bear a child when I could not do justice to one. I was able to choose when to bring my babies into the world – and they waited for me to be ready.
  • Because I was born white and middle class, to an ambitious, upwardly mobile (if mentally unstable – can’t have everything) mother. Not only was I clad and shod, fed and taught, there were books on the shelves and records on the stereo and paintings on the wall. And trips to the Met and MoMA, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall.
  • Because I don’t have to work a minimum wage job, or depend on food stamps to survive, and if I work a second job it is not so I can pay the heating bill, it’s so I can send my own kids to college, or maybe save up for that trip to Greece. Feel me?
  • Because I have health insurance.
  • Because I have the luxury of thoughtful opinions, know that my vote matters, and have time to speak up, opine, march, fight for my rights and those of others (with words, anyway). Single moms living in tenements have no such luxury, though voting is power and everyone has that privilege…. At least for now.

When privileged politicians use their positions to look with contempt on those less fortunate, I realize they are not using their privilege to self-improve, but to self-aggrandize, and worse. Their karma is entirely besmirched, of course, but I won’t gloat about that. Everyone else pays the price of their comfortable hetero-patriarchal ability to look down on people who are not like them.

I’ll try hard to use my privilege not only to improve upon my small soul, but to grow my large soul. Oh, and love everyone. Even that, it seems, is a privilege.