I live a life of privilege — and to be perfectly honest, I’ve not always been aware of it or the deep and powerful bias that entails. My privilege isn’t immense financial wealth; it’s the privilege of belief — that anything is possible until it isn’t.
The origin of my privilege goes all the way back to what my dad said to me when I was 6 — something like:
‘Susan, you can do and be whatever you want to be’.
And so that became my bias.
I wonder if it’s as easy as that? For someone fundamental in a young person’s life to set that tone. I wonder if I would have remembered it if my mum had said it? Or a teacher? And if we dismantle all the components of privilege, might that be at the top of the tree? The privilege of self-belief –the gift of believing that anything is possible.
Even at 6, I didn’t think of it as a super power — it was more like a sense that I was OK — I was solid, and capable.
The only other ‘message’ from an elder that stuck with me was from 6th grade.
I was at the front of the class selecting other students for some sort of project — and the teacher, Mr. Ferraro, was at the back gesturing to some kids I maybe wouldn’t have naturally chosen — so that I would notice them and give them a chance. And I did. I’ve carried some of Mr. Ferraro’s advice with me as well.
What if we were to offer all children two gifts of privilege? They might be as simple as the two bestowed on me:
You are capable
Don’t always choose the obvious.
I wonder how I would have ‘turned out’ without those?
Perhaps it is a super power; I still think I could climb Mt. Everest.
Or Mt. Taranaki!