The Hidden Privilege 

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Everyone in this country has biases affecting how they view their own morality. Past experiences, socioeconomic status, and personal upbringing all affect what people think is ok and what they think is wrong. Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash.

Like most people, I like to think of myself as a moral person. Though of course, I understand that the world is full of gray areas. I’d like to think at least 75% of the time I make good decisions, decisions from a place of kindness. So when I discussed these issues with my parents, I was intrigued to hear their thoughts on the world – a world they saw with more bias than I do. Biases exist; their existence wasn’t what surprised me, it was why. In hearing why my parents felt this way, I discovered that among my privileges as an American citizen was the ability to be more unbiased and more ‘moral’. More able to see the world with rose-tinted glasses and be unaffected by negative experiences in my past. Indeed, the socioeconomic state that people live with has been shown to make “ it difficult for [individuals with poor economic status] to live what their philosophical thinking suggests is a fully moral life.”  

This is not an argument in favor of biases. They are harmful concepts that perpetuate negative conceptions within our society and breed hate. This view of biases simply explains how they come to be and how living away from the material conditions that create these biases offers a certain privilege, as well as a more positive perspective of the world. It’s important to understand why some biases are formed – not from places of hatred, but from fear. Moreover, even with negative experiences, it is vital to not allow our biases to cloud our actions or to stop us from viewing the truth. It is vital to remain educated and to not let generalizations and stereotypes determine your actions. On the other hand, those of us who are privileged enough to be less biased should not allow ourselves to keep those rose-tinted glasses on. Why?  

Wearing those rose-tinted glasses prohibits us from viewing the issues within our society that do not affect us. They stop us from discussing them or putting effort into resolving issues that truly matter. That begins with knowing that even though a problem does not affect us directly, it is still important. One day, those very problems could eventually end up impacting your life. An example of these problems are international issues. Americans are startlingly unaware of basic geographical facts. In a study done by the Council of Foreign Relations, they found that  “Just over half [of Americans] could identify Iraq on a map, even though one hundred thousand American soldiers were in the country just a decade ago.” Despite this, many Americans were still interested in participating in discussing foreign affairs. Hopefully this can be translated into discussions regarding women’s health issues.  

Women’s health is a sphere of issues in which an unaffected group of people, for example, many men, can stay in a bubble away from them quite effectively. But doing so proves detrimental to all women, as they are extremely impacted by issues regarding abortion and contraception. Women’s health is a prime example of what occurs when a group who has the privilege to remain unaffected, specifically the men in power, decides to remain willfully uneducated and not understand the ways in which their decisions affect others.  

Morality is a difficult thing. One that is often hard to maintain – and as such it is important to understand how privilege affects our view of the world.  

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