Is Privilege Ever Earned?


I had no choice but to leave my abusive first marriage. I was raised in privilege and my arranged marriage was into a privileged family. With divorce, my children lost all access to extra physical comforts, practically overnight. The luxuries that their peers took for granted? Gone. The social class that gave them access to privileges? Gone.

Privilege and Children

The financial devastation of divorce and a broken family, with children, is serious. The economic impact is huge for the average family. Children suffer untold damage.

As a loving parent, you will see your children suffer through the whole process of divorce and you will die a little inside because of their suffering. In my case, I really tried my best to make up for all the losses my children had to suffer. But it was not easy at all. I knew my children would lose a lot. I had been privileged for decades but they would lose privilege. Maybe, this is why it took me so long to leave my first marriage.

Dignity not Privilege

So, after my ex-husband and I separated, I worked as hard as I could at my career. My job was my badge of honor. But after awhile, I got sick. My health deteriorated and eventually, I developed new illnesses.

But the comfort was that I was working when I could and doing everything I could. This gave me a feeling of dignity.

As a biological parent, I had to accept help and yes, even handouts. Some people were very kind to me. My family was incredibly kind and generous.

I didn’t feel like a gold-digger.

But I still got treated as a lesser human being by some. I still got symbolically kicked around and insulted. None of this mattered in the long-run. I was focused on putting food on the table, especially, when child support was lacking. And child support was lacking for many, many years. This happened when my children were young, were growing and needed to eat. It broke my heart.


And in turn, I tried to show my children that no one can take away your dignity. That privilege can make you feel entitled without any justification for it. That you only really know the caliber of a person when you take privilege away from him.

There have been many points in the past few years when my children have amazed me with their resilience and their coping mechanisms. To me, a resilient human being is one who adapts and grows through trials. Struggling is not something to be ashamed of. Becoming a person of character involves making the right choices.

Too Much Privilege

In a sense, too much privilege makes someone feel that the smallest amount of hard work by him, is worth more than the hard work of someone else. People feel that they deserve actual luxuries just because they work hard.

Maybe this is a product of overly-prosperous societies. People lose their capacity to feel real hunger. They hanker after luxuries because they have not experienced the growling hunger resulting from not enough food at the table. Privileged people see people struggling in front of their faces and blindly turn away because these poor people are ‘lazy’. They ‘deserve to be poor’. They ‘aren’t good enough’.

The Lesson

Was I once that person of privilege? Was I oblivious to the plight of others? Did I lie to myself as to the compassion I really felt? I honestly don’t know.

You see, so many of us hide behind the shroud of empty religious practices or a facade of a social media image, to shield our actual selves from the world. When what we really need is to be brutally honest with ourselves. Then we can examine our true natures. Re-discover true compassion and tolerance. And stop being so judgmental of others.


Let us always remember that we cannot predict the outcome of our lives. Remember to be humble enough to know that some of what happens to each person, is pre-destined. We are not gods. We need to realize that the good things we receive are not a right, but truly grace. Grace beyond our efforts and achievements. If you believe in a divine power, to you it would be divine power that bestows this grace. Or the universe itself.

And then, and only then can we truly acknowledge that we don’t ever, really earn privilege. Hard work or no.

photo of an elderly woman holding money
Privileged person flaunting her wealth
Photo by Ron Lach.

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