Review of “Invisible Privlege” by Paula S. Rothenberg (No link available)
When we think of our lives here on Long Island we don’t stop before we eat our food, put on our new clothes or get into our cars and think “Hey, I’m lucky” In fact, most of the time, people tend to only focus on the negative parts of their lives rather than realizing the positive ones. More often than not I see people driving up to school with their new Lexuses, that Mommy and Daddy bought them, and still complain about their own parents and how horrible and annoying they are.
It’s these people who have more money, more leisure time and less stresses that don’t stop to look at what they have. I used to work at a hair salon in Glen Cove and around there you will find lots and lots of people with money, status and more privileges. What I noticed was that most women and children especially, the ones that did not have to work to get what they own, are much more snobby and much less in-tune with people around them. The women would go on an on about the new car that they just bought with their husbands money and look in disgust when one of the workers would pull up in an older car.
Children were equally as bad as most of the women in the sense that they felt entitled to things and saw the salon as their playground, not a relaxing place for people. Overall, they were just rude and payed no heed to those around them while judging and looking in disgust towards those who seemed to have less than them. I found it terribly difficult to be nice to these people when you knew how closed-minded and selfish they were.
On the other hand, the women and men that worked for their status and money had a bit more open-mindedness about their privileges. Although they could afford things and did in fact have more than the average person they were much nicer and much more kind towards us as workers and even to other people. These people were friendly, kind and their children also reflected this (With the exception of a few children who still felt entitled because their parents spoiled them)
Obviously, it’s rare to find the latter of the two types of people. The real people who are thankful for their privileges are those who are in fact underprivileged. The people who go day-to day without having much themselves are much more family oriented, much more aware of their surroundings and so much less greedy than those who have money. My boss at the daycare, when she was younger, had next to nothing. She was a single mother raising two children and making due with what little she had to give them. Toys for her kids were usually ripped or broken hand-me-downs from garage sales as was their clothes. Clothes and diapers were washed and by hand and she even had to make her own baby food.
After 20 years of hard work, her daycare finally payed off and she is now able to lead a much more stable lifestyle for herself but she would always tell me how people never seemed to want to help her and she was really all on her own. From being on both sides of the fence she told me she is so grateful for the accomplishments she made for herself and all of her money goes to her children for their college tuition. Whatever money is leftover, she goes traveling one week out of the year to reward herself on how hard she worked. She won’t go to resorts either, she likes to go to villages and help out with their childcare programs.
It’s difficult in this society not to fall into wanting to have nice things. Personally, I believe that if you own nice things that’s great. However, if you treat others poorly and tend to judge others because they don’t have as much as you do, then that is just being ignorant. I try to make friends based on the thought of “If I ended up having nothing, who would still be my friend”
Typically though, those who are poor are more likely to see privileges than those who have money. From working at the daycare, I learned a lot and it taught me how to view my life in a much different perspective that I was lucky to have parents that were stable workers and could provide for me and my brother. If someday I end up becoming a Nurse Practitioner of mental health like I’m aiming for, I know that I will teach my children to not take the things I have provided for them for granted. I would teach them to respect everyone no matter what they own or don’t own for that matter.
A quote that best summarizes this whole article and reflection…
~ Aung San Suu Kyi
Thoughts © Maria Campagna