On being privileged

Dear T,

The concept of privilege is easy to prove, but liberals were trying to prove it.  That's why so few of us swallowed it.  All they had to say was some people have it easier than others and left it at that.  They could have pointed to people living in the ghetto and said isn't that worse?  Or at ugly people and said wouldn't that be hard?  But they put white in front of it or bias and put the blame on the wrong people the wrong way*.  

You can't be blamed for not wanting to bang a fat person.  You can't be blamed for centuries of slavery and Jim Crow.  But instead of focusing on how hard it is for the sufferer, they tried to make you an oppressor and it backfired.  They had a good shot at making us feel bad for others and they ended up making us feel mad at others.  

Mostly at liberals, but at blacks and fats too.  They took what was already hard for people in bad situations and made it worse.  They tried to get rid of black grades and now everybody with a brain is questioning black doctors.  They lumped the worst black criminals with black saints and black businessmen and now black neighborhoods don't have police**.  They defended the obese until they couldn't wash themselves or hold a job and COVID started killing them willy-nilly.  Is this comedy or tragedy?  To kill everything you're trying to heal -- and still think you're being the hero?  

Tyrion Lannister, fellow overcompensator
I bring this idea of privilege up because, like most people, I myself am both privileged and disadvantaged.  I thank God mostly for the first but I've begun to thank Him for the second, too.  The crooked back He gave me, which has kept me out of sports and locker rooms and hiking and swimming and biking and even sitting for too long, has made me a peculiar kind of person -- a man who loves mornings, when his mind is fresh before the pain starts; who values things I can keep close, like books; a man who hides, much of the time, from company -- who stretches and works out to not fall apart completely, which has kept me fitter and more vibrant than almost everybody else; who feels a need to stand out at work; who fights harder than anyone else to be loved by women; who accepts pain as a part of life, but savors every moment without it -- a man who values his mind more than his strength, who relies heavily on manners and charm, who is constantly overcompensating for what I lack, for what I hate, for what I am.  

I don't believe every man has a path carved out for him, but I do believe all of us have paths blocked off.  It's our choice to take what's left for us, to hack our way through jungle or waltz across a meadow.  What God gives is a gift, sometimes even when it hurts.  I imagine what I'd have done if things were "better," and I don't want it.  What I am now, where I am now, I chew on and savor -- I am the only one like me, the only who who does what I do and who does it so well.  I know the pain I bulldoze through every day, and I take pride in how strong I actually am.  I am inferior in one way and that made me superior in a dozen others.

Francis Bacon writes, in his essay On Deformity***,
Deformed persons commonly get even with nature; for, as nature has done ill to them, so they do to nature, being for the most part (as the Scriptures say) “void of natural affection;” and so they have their revenge. 

Certainly, there is an agreement between the body and the mind, and where nature errs in one, she ventures in the other.  But because there is in man a choice about the frame of his mind, and no choice in the frame of his body, the stars of natural inclination are sometimes obscured by the sun of discipline and virtue.  [...] Whoever has anything fixed in his person that induces contempt, has also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn; therefore, all deformed persons are extremely bold; first in their own defense, as being exposed to scorn, but, in process of time, by a general habit. 
If they have spirit, they seek to free themselves from scorn either by virtue or malice; and, therefore, let it not be too surprising if sometimes they prove excellent persons; as was Agesilaüs, Zanger, the son of Soleiman, Æsop, Gasca president of Peru; and Socrates may go likewise amongst them, with others.
I am more vicious and more beautiful because I was born damaged.  These essays, especially the ones attacking things I found to be ugly, are proof of it.  But I was never wholly ruined.  Bacon mentions Socrates not because he was a m*dget or a hunchback, but because he was just ugly -- which, thank God, I am not.  I was given lots of beauty too, and just enough ugliness to make me exceptional.


*The ham-handed botching of liberal causes is (I believe) because of their intense desire to save themselves -- and not the person they claim to be saving.  Eric Hoffer writes in The True Believer,
The burning conviction that we have a holy duty toward others is often a way of attaching our drowning selves to a passing raft. What looks like giving a hand is often a holding on for dear life. Take away our holy duties and you leave our lives puny and meaningless. There is no doubt that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless.
**Tom Sowell writes in Black Rednecks and White Liberals,
A crucial fact about white liberals must be kept in mind: they are NOT simply in favor of blacks in general. Their solicitude is poured out for blacks as victims, blacks as welfare mothers, criminals, political activists against the larger society, as well as those blacks who serve as general counter-cultural symbols against the larger society. White liberals have nothing approaching the same interest in blacks as the principal victims of black criminals or as people advancing themselves within the existing framework of American society, including many who have risen within the military, nor do they get particularly worked up over blacks who build up their own human capital or business capital. None of the many reports of black schools that excel academically seems to arouse any great interest among white liberals.
***Francis Bacon is forgotten by the English-speaking world because he wrote in English.  If he had written in any other language he could have been translated into modern English and appreciated by every generation of American students.  But Cervantes gets a rewrite and Bacon lies in the dust-bin.  

Consider this passage of his, slightly rewritten by me as the one above was, and see how beautiful, how rich this man was -- and wonder why we don't do for the English what we do for the Greeks and the Romans.
Natures that have lots of heat, and great and violent desires and disturbances, are not ripe for action till they've passed the meridian of their years: as it was with Julius Cæsar and Septimius Severus.  [...] But reposed natures may do well in youth, as it is seen in Augustus Cæsar, Cosmus Duke of Florence, Gaston de Foix, and others. 

On the other side, heat and vivacity in age is an excellent composition for business. Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for execution than for counsel, and fitter for new projects than for settled business. [...] The errors of young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can hold, stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end, without consideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles which they have chanced upon absurdly; [...] use extreme remedies at first; and then, doubling all errors, won't acknowledge or retract them -- like an unready horse, that will neither stop nor turn.  Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success. 

Certainly, it is good to use both young and old.  It will be good because the virtues of either age may correct the defects of both.