This morning, I was visiting my parents’ house. I got up, went downstairs, and looked around the kitchen in search of some breakfast. Both of my parents appeared to be in bed, but sitting there, on the counter, was a bowl full of raisin bran, uneaten, with no milk.
“Ha,” I thought, “Silly Dad. He must have gotten up, started making cereal and then forgotten about it and gone back to sleep.”
I then poured myself a bowl of cheerios. I went to the refrigerator in search of milk… none left. Suddenly Dad was looking a lot less silly and a lot more sensible.
As I laughed, it reminded me that often times, it’s easy to cut people down, assume they’re dumb or make fun of them based on surface facts, but when you actually live their circumstances, you might end up singing a different tune. That’s not just something I’m telling other people to do… that’s something I need to do more of myself.
For instance, I excelled in University during my first two degrees. Due to a combination of natural aptitude, family nurture, and economic privilege, I did exceptionally well. Certainly, I worked very hard and had a lot of singularity of focus during those years, and that helped, but until I got out on my own and attempted a degree that wasn’t necessarily in something that came naturally to me, I didn’t realize how much car rides, people cooking my food and doing my laundry, and not having to live up to financial and contractual committments allowed me the energy to do that hard work, and maintain that singularity of focus. I had simply thought that what made me excel was all me, and not the circumstances I lived in. I judged other people that didn’t live up to my level of productivity, assuming that they were just partying too much or lazy. In hindsight, maybe some of them were, but I can now also see that some of them were probably just run off their feet by life.
I know it’s a bit random, but I’m sharing this because I think it’s a great story that could help others that struggle with unpacking their privilege and loving others. Next post, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program.