There is some truth to what Liberals say about privilege, that it ought to be checked. A proper understanding of privilege would see it as the view that one’s actions go without harm, that one’s lifestyle isn’t at risk of making the world a worse place. This is a perception most people are guilty of, which is why it really should be examined by the individual.
But by focusing on power and institutions, Liberals cannot see that privilege is something far more human and therefore far more common. They cannot see how there might be some privilege at work in the mind of a lower class or poor black or hispanic person just as much as there is in the typical, white college graduate. Minorities regularly behave taking for granted the effort required for the things they have — they disrespect their parents and friends, wear expensive clothing, grow fanatic over celebrities, sexualize themselves and others, etc. If the solution to the privileged white person is for them to be educated and to check their own privilege, then it must be admitted that they really lack an ignorance of their privilege. By extension of this logic, if the a colored person is capable of the same exertion of disrespect and enjoyment of privilege, then they too are simply uneducated. This makes both the colored person and the white person equally ignorant, and therefore equally culpable for their actions.
Once more this points towards the individuals responsibility to achieve a greater understanding of their privilege. The liberal cannot point the way forward here though, unless they begin to mention virtue, specifically humility.
After all, every parent, every one that plays an active role in the life of their child and wants them to grow up to appreciate their efforts as a parent and the world around them, wants their child to grow in humility.
There are fewer opportunities for humility now than there were just 50 years ago. Part of the flourishing of what some consider America’s golden era is that it was just on the other side of America’s toughest years. Industrialism was at the right stage — which is to say ripe — and the economy was just booming enough for people to have the opportunity to begin consuming greater amounts while the harsher past wasn’t entirely out of hindsight. The combination was people who appreciated the food, clothing, shelter, cars, jobs, and society they had because the time when they didn’t have it still lived in in the memory of those living.
Generations have passed and the scarcity of earlier times has faded along with many difficulties Americans faced. We now expect our basic needs to be met. People who once fought over bread may now fight over Jordans.
For now, I leave the question of how to pass on and grow in humility unanswered. It is clear, however, that it must begin with a personal acquaintance with either hardship or the willingness to see that one’s actions are not without gravity or potential harm.