Redefining Privilege

Posted by admin December 20, 2011 ()

by Hannah Woodard

I was recently looking through photographs I took in Kenya, and came across one of a child pulling a toy truck fashioned from a plastic water bottle. Sticks were stuck through the sides with bottle caps on each end, such that the wheels actually turned.

For a moment, this brought to mind all of the comparatively ridiculous amounts of toys I had growing up; play mobile, farm sets, soft stuffed animals and dolls whose eyes really opened and shut.

But it also brought to mind the limitations I had as a child, at least compared to many of my friends. Our television received only four working channels, one of which was in French. We didn’t get high-speed Internet until I’d moved out of the house.

These circumstances resulted in me spending much of my childhood either inventing new forms of entertainment with whatever I could find around, or else creating ‘civilizations’ (forts, invented languages, etc.) in the woods in which I lived.

Limitations are an excellent spur for creativity, and I feel privileged to have had some form of limitation in many areas of my life.

I’m not saying that what many Westerners think of as ‘underprivileged’ folks in Africa (and anywhere else in the world, for that matter) wouldn’t benefit from fewer limitations. Only that such limitations have likely taught them things and caused their minds to develop in ways that many Western minds have not. That they have as much to teach and share with us as we do with them.

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