What do you do when you’re given the trophy at the starting line?
I am an entrepreneur.
I see possibility. I see challenges. I see pathways. I believe I can make a difference. Most days I’m excited about the future. Most days I wake up with ideas and questions and solutions to problems. That ambition drives my work. That opportunity to contribute something positive motivates me. Entrepreneurship is about solving a problem and bringing that solution to market. It’s about adding value.
I am privileged.
Privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted to someone.
Let’s call it what it is. I could use “lucky” or “fortunate” or some other inconsequential descriptor but the truth is that I was born privileged. I’m not talking about the kind of privilege that enables me to take lavish vacations and fly first class or even drink the most expensive lattes at Starbucks. That is privilege within a sea of privilege and is not the global perspective that I want to talk about.
I have never been hungry. I have never experienced fear and terror as a routine part of living. I have never experienced oppression — the kind of oppression that silences your humanity. I was born into a healthy body, in a stable country, in a time of massive global transformation and with all the advantages that go with each.
As I said, I am privileged.
I was given the trophy at the beginning of the race.
I can’t help but believe that I have a responsibility to use my advantages to try and improve the lives of others — to earn my trophy.
Your perspective is shaped by your advantages and more importantly by comparison.
Global Privilege is:
- Being “hangry” NOT hungry
- Paying to watch a scary movie NOT waking up inside a terror filled war zone with no rolling credits to signal the end of fear.
- Feeling oppressed for being passed over for a promotion NOT for being told where you can live, what you can do, what you can learn, and who you can love.
- Being concerned about drinking 6 glasses of water a day NOT whether the water you drink to stay alive is actually going to kill you.
Privilege feels shameful when viewed globally in contrast to people who are suffering. No-one wants to feel shame; it’s easier to turn away and redraw the privilege lines so that you’re on the right side, “I struggle to pay rent on my apartment” unlike the person of privilege who owns the building and has it easy.
I’m not saying that because we weren’t born hungry or enslaved that it’s our job to solve world hunger and end child slavery (or maybe it is.) I’m saying that we are a global resource. We have collectively been given varying degrees of freedom, opportunity and access that can be used to improve the condition of the rest of the world. If you’re reading this you are probably on the privilege side of the line that I have drawn. There is no point in feeling bad or ashamed when we have an opportunity to use whatever advantage we have to make things better in some way.
Shame and blame are not going to move that line — action will.
That brings me back to being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are particularly suited to leverage privilege and improve the human condition. The world is our market. The choice of challenges we have to solve is endless; and the pathways and connections are easier to see and to create than ever before in history. It’s a landscape of opportunity with worthy goals. Social entrepreneurship is a bright star on the horizon of humanity and is scaling solutions for social change.
While there are far too many people abusing and misusing their privilege, there are others, solving bold challenges, innovating and channelling a global empathy to build a better world. Whether it’s on a local, regional or global scale, entrepreneurs are making a positive difference and are building a blueprint for leveraging privilege in an age of social responsibility in the hope of erasing the line entirely.
How will you leverage your privilege?
Rural on Purpose is a social enterprise working with rural communities worldwide to envision and build a healthy, sustainable future — one that is both valued and valuable.
Our pilots are collaboration projects that fuel entrepreneurial ambition and thinking.
trying to contribute more than I consume