An article written for the Huffington Post written by the CEO of the non-profit I work for discusses the light we carry and the ways we can share it with one another. I enjoy the metaphor. I agree with the central concept of shared humanity. But I struggle with one line:
We would do well to realize that when we help someone else find a way out of the darkness caused by poverty or isolation, we find ourselves becoming more nourished. As we give freely of our light, of our wealth and our privilege, our brightness is not diminished. It is expanded.
Is sharing our light truly free, or does it cast new shadows?
What is wealth to light?
Do we really give our privilege? If we did, wouldn’t sharing privilege with others actually mean giving privilege up altogether? Is not our focus on giving just a sign of the privilege we enjoy?
These are hard questions and I am glad that my CEO has embraced the debate of Social Service vs. Social Justice and pulled Jewish Family Service of Seattle into this discussion.
or do we just use our privilege to give the
We complain too much. I hate how we say “First World Problems.” The phrase pisses me off. It is like we want to be ignorant and snobby. We act like saying this acknowledges the real suffering and the real problems in the world. We act as if that false acknowledgement somehow makes our complaints better. Well, it doesn’t. In fact, it just makes it easier to justify the things we do – as if we are not already masters at that. If you have never heard “First World Problems,” lucky you. Watch these quick videos to get a snarky lesson in FWP’s:
Now that you are either educated on FWP’s or offended I am calling you ignorant and snobby, think about making a “First World Problems” Jar (see #4 on the list). Don’t kid yourself – the jar won’t fix any problems. You and I will still be lucky, privileged, advantaged, or whatever you want to call it. But perhaps it can help us change our perceptions.
Don’t just make the jar and forget it. And don’t contribute to FWP’s by making a meme. When you are guilty of complaining about First World Problems, write down your complaint and add it to the jar with whatever you decide your fiscal penalty will be. At the end of the month, sit down with your friends, family, or whoever shares the jar and discuss your complaints (or if alone, reflect on it). Think about why the complaints are lame and why you are privileged just to make them. Then share your experience with others who might also need a reminder that they are lucky.