Why I Am Considered Privileged | Guest Post by John Hilliard

I have made many friends throughout my life all throughout the world. Wherever I have gone I notice they don’t live the same life that I live. It’s awkward at times to be different, and as American’s we can be extremely different. We use the word ‘privileged’ when we compare ourselves to others who are in a place of poverty and need. It’s OK to be different but recognizing it is a wonderful first step to help you cultivate a heart of compassion and gratitude…

Being privileged in York, I think of a study done by the Search Institute that looked at The 40 Developmental Assets that are needed to be a successful adult.  They discovered that the more of these assets a child has, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors, and the greater chance they have to flourish as adults.

Here are just a few of those assets:

  • my school provides a caring, encouraging environment
  • I am given useful roles in my community
  • my best friends model responsible behavior
  • I am actively engaging in learning

Last year I worked with a student in an inner-city schools in York named William.  As I worked with William, I found that he was seriously lacking many of these skills. He struggled with the simplest lessons. At best, he only had 12 of the 40 assets.  It will be a miracle for William to have any chance of being successful as an adult. As I looked back on my life I had at least 35 of these assets.  It is no wonder that my life has been successful.  I was born into a very different world than William.

I am certainly privileged; a white male, with a wonderful wife and family, a house, 2 cars, a good job with benefits, friends who care for me, and a voice of influence.

The questions I faced were: What am I doing with this privilege?  How am I giving back to the world that has been so good and helpful to me?  How can I help others flourish?  How can I help the ‘Williams’ of the world gain some of these necessary assets?

Considering the 40 Developmental Assets, how privileged are you and what are you doing in response to that privilege?