Lately I’ve been hearing this “trending” phrase, “Check your privilege.” I like it; it’s a fancy way of saying “Adjust your perspective.” As an art teacher I have to teach perspective drawing to many unwilling participants. No matter how it’s labeled, one’s perspective in life is a game-changer. If you “get it”, then your eyes are opened to so many exciting possibilities; if you don’t, then you are limited to a box of 24’s & a Five & Dime store coloring book. Yeah. Check my age AND my privilege (Five & Dime? Who remembers them?)!
When I was in my early teens I wanted to join Mother Teresa in Calcutta. Then I turned 14 & thought some of the guys in Homeroom were kinda cute. So my perspective changed.
Art college was to be my focus when I decided that a career was important & that’s what people do if they want to live comfortably, be independent, and be good members of western society. Then I met the father of my children (who soon after became my ex), and my perspective changed again.
After raising two beautiful children as a single mother I went back to college to finally get my BA in Art. Now I have “everything I’ve ever wanted”!!! Or, do I? I make a decent salary, with benefits, I have a car, & I own my home. I have “the American Dream”. I’ve worked hard for all of this, but my perspective has changed yet again. Why?
When I was making less than $10,000 a year (1993) working 3-5 jobs, on food stamps, and fighting depression, I remember (on occasion) feeling hope. Hope for better wages, better treatment, respect, and a better future for my kids. My focus was on my kids & their future. It gave me a sense of purpose. As sad & depressed as I was so much of the time in those days, I knew I had a purpose, & a responsibility to my children, but my perspective was always a little off.
For me putting others first is like understanding perspective drawing; it’s a game-changer! It’s living the Gospel message in every aspect of my life. It’s all of those great cliché’s like “do unto others”, “love unconditionally”, and “walk the talk” (or is that “march the march?”). I can well imagine that the farmworkers marching in the CIW March for Rights, Respect & Fair Food have that same sense of hope & purpose that I had for my own future & for the future of my children. No one marches for 200 miles without a sense of purpose! I hope that I have as great a sense of purpose as the Immokalee workers do, because I’ll be joining the march on the final day.
Perspectives change (hopefully they become clearer!), that’s life, but for me hope and a sense of purpose will always remain. That’s what keeps me working for peace & justice. My perspective today? I don’t fancy myself as someone special & I’m certainly not an entrepreneur, but I am someone who knows what hard work is all about, and I will lend my voice & my time to these kinds of social justice & human rights issues. Not because my religion tells me to, or any trite reasons, but because I feel that it is important. It is incredibly important!
Check out the CIW website (link above) for ways to participate in these final days of the march & other ways to help the cause for the Fair Food Program. Spread the word, share the CIW link & use your buying power to let your voice be heard! Si, se puede!