Features, Literature, Top Stories

Privilege: a Term That Has Lost Its Utility

Earlier this year, Twitter was on fire with claims that Margaret Atwood was “abusing her privilege”. She had written an op-ed in the Globe and Mail (“Am I a bad feminist?”) in which she compared the immoderate zeal of the Me Too movement to the purity campaigns following other tectonic social revolutions. The movement wasn’t ready for uncharitable comparisons. How dare she equate Me Too’s calls for rough justice with Stalin’s purges? In the Globe and Mail piece Atwood explained why, unlike several other Canadian authors who had buckled under pressure from their detractors, she had declined to remove her signature from an open letter to UBC. Steven Galloway, formerly the Chair of UBC’s creative writing program, had been fired, without severance pay, following a series of complaints of sexual misconduct, despite having been exonerated. Atwood and her fellow writers had protested the opaque process by which Galloway was tried and found wanting by the university.

In the wake of Me Too, Atwood’s call for transparency in the case was viewed by many as just another ode to the patriarchy, power protecting power. Atwood, a successful doyenne of Canadian letters, was a dinosaur. Feminist credentials be damned, this privileged author was abusing her privilege. She should have the grace and decency to step aside and let other, lesser-known, less-powerful writers have their say. Especially those who thought Galloway was a villain.

Taken aback by the vitriol against Atwood, I tweeted that Margaret Atwood had every right to express her opinion in the Globe and Mail, and that she had earned her place atop the literary heap by dint of talent and hard work, not privilege. My statement was met with a torrent of indignant responses from people determined to convince me that Atwood would never have achieved the kind of success she has if she hadn’t been born of white, middle-class parents, one of whom, I was informed, had been a university professor. I didn’t need much convincing; Atwood’s background informed her writing, allowing her to craft stories that resonated with lots of other middle-class people, who constitute the majority of the reading public.

But that wasn’t the point, according to Twitter, which continued to insist that she wouldn’t have achieved her success without her privilege. I was bombarded with impatient and relentless demands that I agree on this essential point. She wasn’t the best, she hadn’t won her success honestly. She had levitated to the top on an invisible cushion of privilege, and it was imperative that I admit it. I dislike being forced to accept cant, so I’m afraid my Twitter scolds are still waiting.

Both the Left and Right wings of the political spectrum brandish this new, knowing, propagandized version of “privilege” to invalidate “elites” and underscore the unearned advantages that give some members of society an unfair leg up. But how useful is the concept? How has society been improved by the Maoist self-examination of checking one’s privilege (or reproaching others for theirs)? Indeed, one can point out the unearned advantages that lie beneath just about any individual or group. White male, white female, heterosexual, cisgender, educated, able-bodied and middle-class individuals are routinely reminded to check their privilege, with all the assumptions, generalizations and admonishments implicit in the command. Interestingly, nobody tries to undermine Tanya Tagaq’s fame and success as a throat-singer on the grounds of the unearned advantage conferred by her status as an Inuit person. No right-thinking privilege-checker would scold a Kenyan for luxuriating in his or her marathon win just because their lungs are so well suited to long-distance running.

Privilege checking is explicitly ideological. On the Right, it’s used to mock limousine liberals and Ivy League socialists. On the Left, privilege is invoked as a reminder that one’s point of view and accomplishments are a product of the social inequities that have led to the domination of all spheres of society by white men. Even if one is to accept that premise, what does the privilege-checking actually accomplish? If Margaret Atwood examines her life through this stern lens and notes that an accident of birth (beyond her talent) has given her an advantage over some other, theoretical would-be writer, what should she do — stop writing? Recuse herself from national conversations to allow for other voices? Which other voices would be promoted and approved by all, and how would they achieve that sort of prominence? How would any of this be to society’s advantage?

There are writers and readers for all occasions. The Internet is proof of that. Publishers who wish to sell enough books to stay in business, however, can’t necessarily afford to spurn the work of “privileged” authors in order to promote works by the less-privileged. Like any other business, they’re going to want to put out books they know they can sell. If a young indigenous woman writes an original, well-crafted novel that the publisher thinks will resonate with the reading public, and that same writer looks like she might be in it for the long haul, and is likely to do well on a book tour, then the publisher might consider taking a chance on her book. But how did that young, indigenous woman arrive at a place in life where she was able to achieve the hallmarks of a successful writing career?

She probably benefited from parents or teachers who recognized her potential and encouraged her passion for literature and her desire to become educated. She would also be uncommonly bright and curious about the wider world. If she came from a broken home and a community ravaged by alcoholism and domestic, then she would presumably have been blessed with a fortitude, equanimity and laser focus that gave her a significant advantage over her peers. In other words, she was privileged. If one day, this talented indigenous author rose to international fame, would she too be harassed by the weighers of privilege, or would she get a pass because of her hardscrabble background? Perhaps all authors should be inspected for class or colour, kept or discarded, applauded or scorned depending on how much or how little they were born into.

But, no. We live in a society that offers the same basic rights to all of its citizens. We are all free under the law to choose how and where we want to live. Whether to avail ourselves of educational and other opportunities. Whether to join the dominant culture or operate on the margins. Whether to vote conservative, socialist, or nothing at all. Advantages and disadvantages arising from family circumstance, cultural inheritance or native ability can be mitigated to a point, but they cannot be legislated away. Regimes that have tried to smooth away the natural and cultural differences between its citizens are remembered with horror as totalitarian nightmares. Variety and diversity are features of the human experience, and the ability to transcend difference and achieve communion with others is a precious gift to be nurtured and celebrated, wherever it arises.

 

In a former life, Genevieve co-founded a personal carbon trading company. She now works as a writer and translator for film and magazines and is currently writing a murder mystery set in the age of migrant crises and climate change. Follow her on Twitter @GWeynerowski.

43 Comments

  1. For the past 8 months or so I have been promoting a book called “Scarborough” by Catherine Hernandez, who identifies as a queer person of colour. It is a brilliant book; one of the best I have read in years. I think of early Atwood; who I read in my undergraduate years. Margaret Atwood was one of the brilliant women authors breaking into a male dominated literary scene in the late 60s and early 70s. What does this tell us? Two determined and gifted women have done remarkable work. We need to drop the ad hominem crap and judge writers by the words on the page. Margaret Atwood and Catherine Hernandez will do just fine.

  2. Jefferson Marks says

    The end of this article reads almost like something sacred. Perfect articulation of a human privilege we are all able to partake of.

  3. Mark says

    There doesn’t seem to be any point to identifying privilege other than to shame those who seeming occupy an envious position, to belittle them and reduce them to a caricature. It comes from a place of deep resentment.

    As Schopenhauer said, every life is a tragedy, and their arbitrarily-defined “privilege” could very well obscure that.

    • David Chambers says

      Of course there is a purpose: People who cannot rationally attack her argument attack her instead. None of them would have attacked her “privilege” if she had been agreeing with them.

    • Genevieve Weynerowski says

      To be fair, I think a lot of this is coming from idealistic young people who truly want to see a world that allows everyone to actualize their potential and they have been swept up into an ideology they haven’t properly analyzed.

  4. ccscientist says

    It does not matter who says the truth: if it is true, honor it. This invalidation of people due to their position in society is insane. Are we to hold the homeless has having more right to set the direction for society than those who have achieved much? Every human has advantages and disadvantages. Think of Danny Devito: short, fat, ugly, bald–and yet he is a movie star. Some of the biggest music and film stars are black, and they certainly have advantages of looks and talent over most white people: should they shut up because they got lucky with their genes and lucky breaks? No one can truly judge who is advantaged. I know of film stars and professors who overcame a stutter, whites who grew up living in the back seat of the family car or on the street, people who overcame drugs and crazy parents. Let us celebrate achievement where ever it arises.

    • TarsTarkus says

      What these envious jealous power-hungry mostly talentless bastards are saying is no matter what you do or have done, ‘you didn’t earn that’, ‘you didn’t build that’. Because all you are is entirely due to luck or existing ‘white cisgender patriarchial power structures’ that favored your effortless glide to fame and fortune. Of course ‘they’ earned everything they ever did or got through sheer hard work while endlessly having to fight against The Man. I call it both BS and evil. And what makes it worse is too many gutless people at the head of too many professions are trying to soothe and accomodate these angry SJWs who aren’t interested in compromise because compromise is evil because they are right, they always have been right, and always will be right. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be bargained with, and they will never ever stop until they achieve total victory over you and have caused your social/economic extermination. I’ll stop ranting now.

      • Steven says

        I think this is the issue across the political spectrum. The idea that your worldview, way of doing things, etc. is the only path to truth and justice: and anyone who disagrees is wrong and must have somehow cheated to become successful.

  5. Asha says

    Brilliant article. Thank goodness there are sensible people out there who can see through the tidal wave of SJW BS and think a little!

    • gerard says

      asha But have yet to see through the tidal wave for decades now of hypocritical reichwing BS

  6. Trust me, Genevieve, you’ll lose friends over this piece. Because we live in extreme times. And, as Margaret Atwood rightly observed in the article you mentioned: “In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated. Fiction writers are particularly suspect because they write about human beings, and people are morally ambiguous. The aim of ideology is to eliminate ambiguity.” Regardless, you’re doing the right thing. Thank you for being a voice of reason in an era that will be remembered best for its cruelty and its insanity.

  7. David J says

    “Both the Left and Right wings of the political spectrum brandish this new, knowing, propagandized version of “privilege” to invalidate “elites””

    “Privilege checking is explicitly ideological. On the Right, it’s used to mock limousine liberals and Ivy League socialists. On the Left, privilege is invoked as a reminder that one’s point of view and accomplishments are a product of the social inequities…”

    It seems to me that in general the right criticise a person for their views, no matter what their background, while in general the SJW left criticise a person for who they are and less in relation to their actual views. So I’m not so sure the parts I quote are accurate. But I enjoyed the article and the final paragraph caps an interesting and well-considered article.

  8. DiscoveredJoys says

    If the ‘privileged’ are denied a voice then only disaffected and talentless voices of self-appointed ‘champions’ of various minorities and ‘victims’ will be heard.

    Which I think is the point of ‘Check Your Privilege’.

  9. The idea that the American right’s criticism of intellectual elites is another form of “privilege checking” is basically ridiculous. The essay doesn’t really indicate any substantive argument defending this point. And so this looks suspiciously like an effort to advertise the author’s left wing sympathies, lest she be accused of being on the right.

    Nobody on the right is dressing up in masks, attending talks by left wingers, and demanding that the audience accede to the tenets of Standpoint Theory. Nobody working in methodology, philosophy of science, epistemology, on the American right has ever advanced this sort of theory. And no one has promoted it popularly. There is no ideological analogue of privilege checking on the American right.

    What this essay has cited from the right are legitimate criticisms of rank aristocratic elitism in the intellectual professions on the American left.

    The intellectual professions were demonstrably captured and corrupted with ideological homogeneity by the American left over the last half of the twentieth century. The sooner everyone who wants to make these professions better confronts this reality squarely and maturely, the better. The Enlightenment and classical liberal ideals of a society based on the merits of individuals, divorced from their raced, gendered, other demographic, and political origins, is a great one.

    And the right is absolutely correct to slam the elitism undermining those causes. Whether this is a partisan thing to say or not is orthogonal to whether or not it’s true. And it is.

    • Maureen says

      Hear hear! The right points out the left’s hypocrisy, not “privilege” per se: rich people broadcasting their support for communism or socialism while sipping lattes and texting on the latest iPhone; people who live in completely homogeneous neighborhoods waxing philosophic about the theoretical benefits of multiculturalism; Hollywood/music industry pimps preaching about respect for women while raking in money via women’s degradation; people who possess walled-off mansions and armed security extolling the virtues of open borders and gun control; etc. People on the right are generally fine with being rich, finding women sexy, owning guns, and being in favor of immigration controls. They don’t consider those positions to be inherently evil. But they do consider the people that live with those “privileges” but claim to be against them to be deeply hypocritical and disingenuous.

      • Yep. These hypocrisies are a natural product of the exercise of privilege checking. The exercise of standpoint theory starts with personal shame over one’s own class position, since that position was by definition unearned. Step two is to atone for that sin in oneself. Step three is to demand that everyone else do the same.

        Since the right generally believes that the social station of whites, men, and other classes of people are a product of their individual efforts, talents, and merits that are orthogonal to their demographic markers, people on the right generally see no need to feel ashamed of that social station, or the ideological commitments that it affords.

        But the right _does_, _rightly_ , see a problem with the left making racism, sexism, and so on fashionable and acceptable, undermining the liberal project of judging individuals on their merits, in the name of privilege checking. And calling out the elitism inherent in this exercise is a principled thing to do. If we do not, people will go on thinking that you can just systematically exclude and discriminate against anyone who does not want to “check their privilege,” who does not accept a racist and sexist view of the world.

        Privilege checking is a kind of hypocritical elitism worth decrying!

      • gerard says

        Maureen – What typical rightwing hypocritical hogwash.
        I can never believe the ignorance of the right saying those of the Left that have some money is hypocritical because they’re drinking lattes,etc. It’s pure stupidity.
        The Left who push’s Socialism, Communism…whatever you rightwingers like to call it (without knowing what it is), talk about equality.
        It doesn’t mean because of whatever their job is that allows them to make more money, that they should throw it away,
        and intentionally put themselves on the street.
        Just can never comprehend the ignorance of rightwing thinking.
        It is that there is the money for most to be of at least middle class.
        So because their particular job offers them more money, yet they believe in equality,and works towards it, you feel ‘what’, they should throw that money away???
        Or when they’ve made that money, they should say no, I can’t take that money, it’s too much . Where is your brain???
        The rightwing got on Michael Moore’s case for now being a millionaire.
        He didn’t set out to be a millionaire, obviously.
        His books and movies, and awards made him money.
        If you look, you will see he gives tons to good causes, charities, and to make changes so there is more equality.
        He’s all for it.
        He’s all for paying more taxes because he makes more, but not if he’s the only one doing that, and greedy,selfish rich rightwingers aren’t into doing that.
        The rightwing also got on Moore’s case because he sent his daughters to private schools.
        He said many times, he’s a huge advocate on changing, making better the educational system. There’s no reason why it’s gone downhill, when all our parents got better educations through public school.
        But until that happens, which he’s fighting for, public schools suck, so yes, he wants his daughters to get a better education,and he luckily has the money to afford.
        How is that a bad thing, or hypocritical thing?
        Moore, like other progressives fight for change, the rightwing does nothing.
        Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have both said they should pay more taxes.
        But it makes no sense that they do that on their own,and not the other many rich ,yet selfish rich people. That would make no sense, and wouldn’t make any difference.
        Because they’re rich, yet are open to more Socialized programs, that means they shouldn’t be drinking lattes, texting on the latest iphones, moving into a divey apartment.
        Your gun control points are so,extremely stupid.
        It’s funny that those who are progressive ,yet have money, give to causes, do things to make change,etc.,
        and the right fault them for that.
        The rightwing is fine doing absolutely nothing to change for the better.
        They’re ok with the sexism of women, the racism, the poor remaining poor..
        And you see that as ok.
        I truly believe the rightwing are the ones that should be deported or put into camps till they learn how to live amongst others.

        • Maureen says

          Gerard, I think you have made a much better argument for my position with your post than I could have ever done. Luckily, leftists often do this for people who lean right, without us even asking. They regularly illustrate their incoherent and hyperbolic thinking, lack of understanding of basic facts (or writing structure), deep animosity for anyone with different opinions, and authoritarian nature. Thank you, truly.

        • Dan says

          Stop being so full of hate for those who don’t think like you.
          If you check her twitter, you will see that Genevieve Weynerowski is hardly right wing.

  10. Andrew Roddy says

    ‘We live in a society that offers the same basic rights to all of its citizens. We are all free under the law to choose how and where we want to live.’
    Who is the ‘we’ here?. Is this some kind of Quillette ‘we’.
    If ‘we’ don’t feel ‘we’ recognise this ‘we’ should ‘we’ understand that ‘we’ have wandered into the wrong meeting-room?

  11. Gregory T. Bogosian says

    If you believe in a deterministic universe, then everyone who is at all successful is only successful because of unearned privilege. No one chose to get the combination of genetics and environment that made them more intelligent, more diligent, more creative, or more gregarious than others. Also, “all spheres of society by white men.” Except for Law and Employment services. Women are actually over-represented in those. https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/professions-women

  12. ga gamba says

    What fascinates me most is that it’s this moment in history when it’s never been easier to accomplish things. All those barriers of privilege that once limited opportunity to the special few have been greatly reduced if not eliminated. Just about everyone in an (post)industrial country is literate, and in many countries people are multilingual. I lived in the developing world where public libraries are rare, and in some cases unknown, yet because of the internet that barrier is all but gone. To publish our ideas we no longer are required to have access to a printing press, which in many countries was once licenced by the gov’t. Via podcasts, youtube, and other social media people are narrow and even broadcasters. People have shot decent and even highly regarded films on mobile phones – Tangerine was shot on three iPhones, edited on a computer, and the budget was about $100k. “But, but, but he had one-hundred thousand dollar privilege!”

    Ah yes, capital. Consumer credit as we know it today only came into being about 70 years ago, and it took many years for the majority to have credit cards. “But, it’s a debt trap.” It can be… for those who undisciplined. What would you prefer to have? Access or no access to credit. Mortgages have been around for a while, yet the down payment used to be as much as 50%. When I lived in the developing world they were uncommon, so a family, and the extended members, would pool their resources to buy a home. If one was lucky s/he had a good employer that provided mortgages to the employees, but this was in countries where lifetime employment was common. Of course if your employer is also your mortgage lender, this limits your mobility and many other things. When you left you’d have to deal with the mortgage then and there. Even access to financial institutions such as banks in something we in the industrialised world take for granted. In the Philippines 86% of households don’t have a bank account. If you go into the provinces it’s rare to see a bank, but you’ll find wire services like Western Union. Family members in the cities and overseas wire money home, and the fees can be high.

    Starvation is about the furthest thing on our minds. Americans spend just 6.4% of their household income on food today vice more than 40% one-hundred years ago. We don’t live in an era of abundance, we live in one of hyper abundance. Heck, we have farmers making their land less productive to get organic certification for their produce and consumers paying higher prices.

    I could go on and on. I think this excerpt says a lot: “Between 1901 and 2003, the average U.S. household’s income increased 67-fold, from $750 to $50,302. During the same period, household expenditures increased 53-fold, from $769 to $40,748. Equally dramatic is that the $40,748 would have bought more than $2,000 worth of goods in 1901 prices, indicating a tripling of purchasing power.” Suffice it to say that just about everyone in the industrialised world is privileged compared to their grandparents/great grandparents, and certainly more so than the developing world.

    All the discriminatory laws of the past have been cast aside. Further, the law even requires private businesses to be open to all – except somehow the ladies evade this with their women-only yoga studios. “”Cuz the male gaze!” Okie dokie. In two decades we moved from requests for tolerance to expectations of embraces and celebrations. And that’s not even enough. Demands for and receipt of segregation are even accommodated.

    So, despite all the evidence of a leveling of access to opportunity and resources with the corresponding improved circumstances for all, what’s going on with these accusations of privilege? I suspect it’s a few things. Because more working-class and poor people have access to institutions, in particular tertiary education, that were the domain of the middle class (mostly post WWII) and higher, they interact with those perceived to have it easier. Identitarianism helps feed the narcissism of small differences. I’m sure jealously/envy play a part. Further, a lot of people dislike the idea they have agency and are responsible for their outcomes; they’re stressed out by the onus, and when they don’t accomplish their dreams, or don’t even make much of an attempt at it, it’s easier to blame others.

    I think the belief of the debunked “blank slate” and everyone is equal play a role; if not for the situational differences of privilege everyone would accomplish everything. Though empathy is desirable, being over empathetic is like enabling a substance abuser. Despite this, people have had “be empathetic” messages drummed into their heads for years in school – education is now therapeutic. Yet, that empathy isn’t a reciprocal relationship. There are those who must always give and those who expect to always receive. This is due to the equation racism = prejudice + power. A large group of people genuinely believe this and as a result behave repellently. Of course, science proved a punch thrown and landed due to mere prejudice is much less harmful than one due to racism.

    Amplification of microaggressions has people walking on eggshells, and if I’m malicious character I can use this, or even the threat of it, to get what I want. A very flawed understanding of history also contributes. No, not all whites lorded over plantations, and, no, not all whites are trust fund recipients – less than one per cent of Americans are. Just a few years ago it was the 1% versus the 99%. In today’s new maths the 65% of the population who are white are the 1%. “But, even those white males who weren’t lords of the manor still are beneficiaries of the institutions.” So are you, sweetheart.

    But privilege accusations mostly exist due to certain people’s inability to say no to demands and shrug when accused of racism. Get some backbone.

    • defmn says

      //Get some backbone.//

      This is pretty much it.

      It isn’t a new thing that the ideas that built the ‘west’ are under attack. The part that is new is that those who used to defend and defeat those attacks have disappeared from public life – either political or academic. The reasons for that decline in strength of will constitute a long explication but this is really all that it is about.

      It won’t be a popular opinion but the rise of feminism – and its mainstreaming of victim hood – is just the symptom. Women didn’t ‘win’ control of the narrative so much as men gave it away.

      And to be clear that is not a shot at women. It is a shot at men. When those with power fail to protect it those without it will move in to take it.

      Here we are.

  13. realistic says

    Why not just say the word? IQ. IQ. IQ. IQ. IQ. IQ. It’s largely inherited. That’s been known for decades from studies on adoption and identical twins separated at birth. My IQ is not as high as I would like it to be. I didn’t inherit my dad’s math abilities.

  14. Personally, I think the more accurate terms are advantaged/disadvantaged. Looking back at 70 over a long career in health care, beginning at 15 when I began working in biomedical research, it was indeed true that I was granted privileges. Based on what, I can’t say. But I did have advantages that many do not irrespective of race or gender: a nurturing, loving family, a basically trauma-free childhood, entering a racially ethnically diverse elementary and secondary schools, early reading environment etc. etc.

  15. Greg says

    Excellent article. I love how you point to the futility of even invoking supposed ‘privileges’ to being with. Instead of criticizing people for their success, regardless of background, how about we offer up messages of empowerment to all people? Well said.

    Two observations: I don’t think there is equity between those on the right and left in terms of how much the criticism of ‘privilege’ is used. This is way more of a left wing thing than a right wing. Secondly, I think your indepth analysis of the motivation behind the utility of ‘privilege’ lacks from calling out the utter self-serving, ego inflating, virtue signaling nature that is absolutely a huge motivator of those whom seek others to check their privilege. Do you really think that those obsessed with having others check their privilege really believe they are standing on genuine moral high ground and are doing society a great favor? OR……do you think they are confused, insecure and selfishly invested in the ego/emotional pay offs that their conniving grandstanding temporarily affords them in some circles? Peace and love.

    • Genevieve Weynerowski says

      Greg, I think there’s an element of both. In certain circles there is a strong belief that calling out privilege is good for society, and a great deal of peer pressure to agree ideologically and tactically.

  16. robert t weston says

    Scientific American

    The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized
    Are the most successful people in society just the luckiest people?

    By Scott Barry Kaufman on March 1, 2018

    • defmn says

      Luck – an idea invented by the successful in order to deflect the envy of those who are not. 😉

  17. L. Davis says

    That’s what gets me about this privilege thing. Whats the end game? If everyone is dismissed because of some privilege, what is left?

  18. Three comments:
    1. The idea of “privilege” devalues the rich and varied experiences of growing up. Growing up in difficult “non-privileged” circumstances provides a deep well of inspiration, strength, compassion, understanding, etc. There is tremendous value in struggle, and the idea of privilege assumes that one’s privilege is more useful for life than one’s experience. I strongly disagree. When I look back at my life, I would never trade the difficult and painful experiences that have taught me and molded me much more than any privilege could have. For example, I would never have the kind of open mind and giving heart that I have now if it hadn’t been for an abusive marriage, loss, financial struggle, discrimination, etc. I would never trade that for so-called privilege. It would not be a fair trade. I’d be losing so much.

    2. The idea of privilige assumes that all people who are not privileged grew up stereotypically similar and unable to rise above their circumstances (and vice-versa). What an insult. What an utterly misanthropic concept. Do you seriously want to tell all people who are “less privileged” that they are necessarily limited by their circumstances? Do you hate the human race that much? People get to make choices and are not determined by their circumstances. People don’t have to be victims. Promulgating a concept like privilege is like creating a machine that turns out victims by the thousands. Instead of giving people reasons to be a victim, give them inspiration.

    3. “Privilege” assumes that the best life has to offer is money, status and ease. What a lie. Look at all the people with plenty of so-called privilege who are miserable. Privilege is not only no guarantee of happiness, it isn’t even on the same page. The happiness research underscores that circumstances play only a small role in a person’s happiness. Certainly many people who have difficult life experiences react by becoming small and bitter. This is a choice, not an outcome. To say otherwise is to have a very limited and one-dimensional view of humanity. “Privilege” and all its trappings is not at all the same thing as real happiness and the power that comes from being able to develop and overcome challenges. We all get to have challenge in our lives.Having privilege does not mean your challenges are necessarily less painful or life-changing, it only means that they are less visible. To argue otherwise is to assume too much.

  19. Merv MacPherson says

    Can it possibly matter what all the cretins who actually believe that you can convey truth or insight in 140 characters or less, say on Twitter? There is a reason that birdbrains are the original tweeters.

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