Thursday, May 14, 2015


So, now that I'm using this blog for my personal reflections and utilizing other media for communicating about the ABLE program, I'm going to take the liberty to go a little "off topic." Even as a personal post, I really don't like to comment publicly on politically charged topics because I think there's so much opportunity to be misunderstood and I would so much rather there be dialogue than to try to just make my point. But some things have been running through my mind that I hope might be an encouragement toward peace and loving attitudes towards brothers and sisters in Christ and toward fellow human beings in general. People have been talking about "white privilege" for a while and it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Being that I'm white, I could be one of those uncomfortable people. I could feel defensive about being labeled as having an advantage simply because of my lineage, and insist that the claims of injustice from people who have lived a very different set of experiences from my own are overstated.

But living in Cambodia, I can't help but see that I have been privileged. It's humbling. I recognize the expectations that I have, the sense of entitlement I often have, that are in contrast to so many of the people around me, and sometimes I feel like a spoiled brat. My upbringing has taught me to view a refrigerator as a necessity, but many Cambodians I know don't have one. I have a bathroom right off of my bedroom. Many Cambodians have to walk several houses away to use a bathroom, if they have one available at all. Even while living in Cambodia I have access to so many things that many Cambodians do not. What choice did I have in being born to American parents rather than to Cambodian parents? What have I done to warrant this status? Zero. Absolutely nothing.

Why do we chafe at the thought of being called privileged? Probably because we like to think that we deserve what we have and it irritates us for others to say that we had an unfair advantage. I'm sorry, fellow white people, but we have had an advantage. And, no matter what your skin color, if you've grown up in the developed world, you have too. I've seen the contrasts both in the U.S. and here, and I can't ignore the reality that is plainly before my eyes.

"For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Brothers & sisters, can we recognize that we've all received blessings we didn't deserve? Can we also accept that any of us can also be subject to negative influences, systems, and conditions that we had little to no control over? 

I think another reason people don't like being called privileged in light of another's claim to injustice is that they feel they are being blamed. I'd like to propose that, while you may not be directly responsible for the problem, as believers, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution. The first step seems to me to be a willingness to reserve judgment & really listen to other people's experiences and think of what it would be like to be in their shoes. Thank God that Jesus did that for us. He didn't just think about what it would be like, He emptied Himself and walked in our shoes.

Black lives matter. Police officers' lives matter. Cambodian lives matter. We all matter to Jesus and, for that reason, we ought to matter enough to one another to drop our pride & defensiveness, drop the blame game, and work together for justice, having concern for the things that affect one another. Jesus had the privilege of being the divine Son of God. He didn't pretend that He wasn't, but He willingly laid aside the benefits of that privilege to save us. Being aware of being privileged, I'm continually confronted with choices about what to do about it and I invite all of my brothers & sisters to do engage in the same honest reflection.

I had already written this when I stumbled across this video. I think it may help to make the point. 

(I will make the disclaimer that I am not a fan of everything on the website, but I thought this one was worth sharing.)