Monday, December 13, 2010

The sum of innumerable privileges

It is coming to that busy Christmas end of year season here.  In Australia, the weather really heats up, the temperature rising in tandem with the excitement of children anticipating a period of surprises and treats.  For me, Christmas is always a period of reflection and evaluation, as the year draws to a close replete with images of new life welcomed in surprising and unconventional circumstances, ancient promises made and kept, and the tenuous vulnerability of life and relationships.  At this time of year, above all others, I am acutely aware of being the sum of innumerable privileges.

"Of those to whom much is given, much will be expected."  I don't know the origins of this expression, but it has been a theme in my family for as long as I can remember; the implication being that those with talent or intellectual or material wealth have an obligation to give of themselves, and to make the most of their opportunities to unselfish ends.  And this is something I strive for.  And yet how can I hope to give in accordance with the abundance of privilege I have? Privilege I did nothing to earn or achieve.

I was born in a time of peace in a stable democracy.  I am a part of the dominant culture, speaking the dominant language.  I grew up in a loving and supportive family with many excellent role-models.  I received easily, willingly and happily an outstanding education.  I was blessed to have outstanding teachers.  I attended university with a minimum of fuss, and at a reasonable cost.  My gender is, to all intents and purposes, irrelevant.  I have excellent health.  My children are healthy, happy and amazing.  My husband grows more impressive - in thoughtfulness, character and integrity.  The debt I owe to life, or humanity, or the future is humbling.

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