Privilege, and Discerning What’s Yours To Do

Gosh. Where to begin.

I’m processing privilege right now, and I’m figuring out what’s mine to do. If you can relate to that, and if you aren’t going to get really uncomfortable when I talk about the current state of U.S. politics and the issue of abortion, read on.

When the Supreme Court of the United States recently decided to overrule past precedent (and, in some cases, to ignore what they’d promised to do during their confirmation hearings), they did so from places of extreme privilege.

These judges may have in the past been in vulnerable situations, but now, I can confidently say that were a member of their family or friend group in the position of having to raise a child or risk their life to do so against their will, they could afford to help that person. They’re privileged enough to be able to afford to send them to a safe clinic, in a neighboring state or country, and they have the intelligence and other resources to ascertain what’s needed and get it done. They also can be assured some agency in where they live – if they decide the laws of their current state don’t work for them, they’ve got options.

If it isn’t obvious, these folks are in the minority. They may or may not be in the “1%”, as recent politicians have called it, but they have the privileges of wealth, and power, and education, and likely others as well. Most of them are white, and most of them are male, and for the most part, they’ve gotten to navigate the world without their right to marry who they want or, in many cases, spend time where they want or pursue the life they want, being questioned.

The vast majority of people with uteruses in the United States of America do not have all of these privileges. And in fact, a majority of people living in the U.S., whether they’ve got a uterus or not, believe that the Supreme Court’s decision was wrong. It crossed a dangerous line by setting the precedent that people can be forced to raise a child, and yet the other person (the one with the penis) who contributed their sperm is irrelevant in the matter. We’ve already, just in the last week or so, heard the horrendous news that an eleven-year-old child was denied an abortion.

Eleven. Do some simple math and think about who might have fathered that child and whether forcing an eleven-year-old child to carry a child is really a good idea.

Prior to this decision, I’d pulled way back on my time spent on social media. I’m now in the position that, while most of my friends are on the same page about this as I am, I have to reckon with the fact that a few close friends are profoundly NOT on the same side of this issue as I am. And recognizing that people I know and love care more deeply for the potential of some cells to grow into a child, even if that child could be unwanted or unable to thrive in the world, even if that child surviving could kill the parent, metaphorically or physically…I honestly don’t even have the words here.

I know they have their reasons for their opinions. But my knowledge of history tells me that most of the reason for the church and its members adopting this opinion as such a hot button issue is because of white supremacy. It’s because when Black people fought for and won some concessions, FINALLY, in the civil rights movement, a hundred years after the Civil War should have made that fight moot but didn’t because people are stubborn and fearful, the church wanted and needed an issue, a scapegoat, a way to maintain power over women and minorities.

Am I generalizing slightly? Sure. Am I making any of this up? Not at all. Go do a bit of research if you don’t believe me.

So what am I, a white woman with plenty of my own privilege, even more privileged to currently be living in Canada, supposed to do with this?

How do I stand by knowing that women will die and lose the right to a life of their own choosing every day because of this ruling?

How do I support my family and friends? How do I support the people I don’t know?

How do I avoid getting consumed by the panic and fear and frustration and anger?

And you may be asking the same question too.

The truth, of course, is that discerning what is mine to do is a very, VERY personal choice.

I would love for every person reading this to begin contacting their representatives on a weekly basis if they don’t already.

I would love for every person reading this in the U.S. with enough privilege and safety to do so to begin attending protests regularly.

I’d also love for those same folks with privilege and safety to send some money weekly to organizations who continue to do the work to make sure all those who need this life-saving care receive it. Reproductive rights are human rights.

But whether or not you, or I, do any of those three things at all or as often as I would like to see it happen, I want ALL of us to take a pause. Take a moment to stop operating from a reactionary perspective.

Once you’ve done some meditation or taken a walk outside or journaled about your feelings or danced your face off for twenty minutes – you know, whatever mindfulness practices keep you going in the face of stress and anxiety and panic and anger – take a pause.

Survey the situation around you. What are your privileges? What are your skills? What power do you have right now? Ask yourself, what is mine to do? Consider what is yours to do today, and this week, and this month, and this year, on this issue.

And then take the first step. If we take a step every day, or even every week, how much better off are we?

For me, what is mine to do varies somewhat from day to day. And I will keep checking in on it. But the big theme for me, right now, is recognizing that I have two areas to focus.

I want to be known as a supporter and defender of human rights by everyone who knows me. I know a ton of people in the U.S. So I’m going to keep doing what I can, from a distance, to support those I know and those I don’t, following the guidance of those who know more than me so that I don’t unknowingly make any of us a target.

And because supporting the local community here is a major focus of my day to day work, I will continue to do that. I’m looking forward to attending Pride events here later this month. I will continue to offer scholarships and partial scholarships to support those seeking coaching and clarity. I will keep learning more about local cultures, customs, struggles, history, and ways that I can be a force for good in the world.

And perhaps most importantly, long-term? I won’t forget myself and my own self-care in the struggle. Because if I give everything I have, every day, without making time for my own needs, there will come a day when I will become a burden on those around me, rather than a boon and force for good in the world.

Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep growing. What is yours to do today?

Keep asking. And keep taking a step. The fight is an urgent one, and if we wait for an election or for someone else to do it, there won’t be anyone or anything left to fight for.