I took a vacation from writing Food for the Flock this summer. As I was planning ministry efforts for the fall, Food for the Flock (F4F) kept coming up as something I should resume. My intention is to write thought provoking and timely pieces that reflect the intersection of faith and life. The juxtaposition of faith and life can be mind boggling. F4F addresses the daily challenge of faithfulness.
As many of you know this summer I have gotten back out on my bicycle. Riding my bike has been pure pleasure since I was a kid. As a youngster it was the freedom to go to the pool and see my friends or the opportunity to explore before I could drive a car. As an adult it is about friendships, exercise, as well as adventure. Today I want to write what riding my bike has taught me about privilege.
The roads are made for cars, trucks, and buses. In most instances “might makes right” when out on the road. Yet if one studies the “rules of the road” motor cyclists and bicycles are considered vehicles on the road with the same privileges AND responsibilities to abide traffic laws. When someone buzzes past too closely or even forces me off the road, I feel like a second-class citizen.
Bikes have to be in good repair. I recently heard about a bike whose derailleur was screwed on by a knob from a kitchen cabinet. The owner was creative in a “duct tape kind of a way”, but not safe. If it fell off, the gears would lock up and a rider would be catapulted over the handle bars while in traffic. I keep my bike in good working order and do my part to keep the road safe by not causing an accident. I can afford to do this.
Purpose vs. pleasure. I don’t have to ride a bike to get to work or pick up groceries as some folks do. My machine is for fun unless I choose to arrive for work glistening with sweat. Like the giving of God’s grace, which I have done nothing to deserve, I am privileged simply because I was born white and female.
Apart from cycling, privilege appears in daily living. It is a word that ruffles feathers, but we can’t escape questions like what is privilege? Who has it? Who doesn’t? What can people with privilege do that people without privilege can’t? When phrases or words like second class, or money and choices come into play, privilege is not far behind. The answers influence outcomes. Privilege is related to education, healthcare, housing, and status.
As people of faith how does privilege influence our gratitude? How does that gratitude influence the way we view or treat our neighbor?