The Duty of Privilege….
John Ross, my friend and Senior Minister at Wayzata Community Church, recently shared a quote by Irish author John O’Donohue: “The duty of privilege is absolute integrity.” Those words resonated with me, as I consider myself to be quite privileged. Now, this is not to say that I am fabulously wealthy or possess great fame or power, but rather that I am surrounded by wonderful friends and family, I have been afforded the opportunity to do what I love and get paid to do it, my family and I are healthy and safe, and I have lived a relatively happy and easy life. In fact, I daresay that if you are reading this blog you are also in a position of privilege compared to the vast majority of the world’s population.
The privilege that we share certainly comes with responsibility. We are called upon, as John said, to “act with honesty, uprightness, and generosity.” It is our duty to lead, help, and raise up others who have not been afforded the same privileges we have. We have a duty to be resources to those around us.
When working with my clients, I often spend time identifying the “resources” they have around them. When we talk of resources, we are not looking at products, equipment, capital, or IP; resources, in this case, are people— their team, their customers, their vendors and contractors, their friends and family, and their community— who have a vested interest in their success. We talk about how those resources can be a positive influence and support system for their business, but also how they can be a resource to others.
Being in a position of privilege means having the ability and the responsibility to share that privilege with others. What gifts do you possess? What skills and knowledge can you share with those around you? In what ways can you use your success to provide a hand up to someone who could use it? How will you use your position of privilege to help someone who cannot help him or herself? On the flip side, what do you lack? Where could you use that hand up, and to whom will you turn for help? What might you learn from the very person who needed you? What gifts can they share with you, and will you accept those gifts?
As people of privilege, we need to recognize when and how we can be resources to those around us. We also need to recognize when we are in need of the resources of others, and be willing to ask for them. We all need to have each others’ backs; if we do that, our businesses, our communities, and our world will all be stronger.