Back when I was in college, I was super-involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Large group meetings, small group bible studies, church on Sundays, prayer meetings, leadership meetings, etc.
And that stuff was really good for me. But I totally judged other Christians who claimed they "didn't have time" for it.
Like, come on! God should be the most important thing in your life! Surrender all to Jesus! Everything else- your grades, your academic goals, your life plans- it's all garbage compared to knowing Christ. I'd give it up in an instant.
Which was really easy for me to say, and really easy for me to believe, because I'd never imagined the possibility that I wouldn't have a college education and everything that comes with it.
My parents went to college, and they were saving money in a college fund for me from the day I was born. There was never any question in my mind- of course I would go to college. Everyone goes to college. That's how it works, right? You graduate high school- that's easy- and then you go to college.
And it was easy for me, because my family always encouraged me to do my best in school. And when I wanted more science and math than public school could offer me, my parents bought me books and science kits and everything. (And I'm smart and not a perfectionist, so I think I finished my homework a lot faster than other people.)
I always knew I'd go to college, any college I wanted, because I was smart. Money would be a big factor but not a deal-breaker. We'd find one that would be great for me.
Yeah, so that's what I did. I went to a nerdy engineering school and double-majored in math and engineering. Paid for it with a big scholarship plus my parents' money. No student loans.
And then I declared that I didn't care about anything in life except Jesus. And that I would give up everything for him. And that people who "didn't have time" to come to bible study were making an idol out of their education.
Maybe the truth was that they knew the value of something I had always taken for granted. Maybe their parents hadn't gone to college, and getting a degree was this big seemingly-impossible dream, and they worked hard for years and years to get into such a well-ranked school. And they are here for one primary reason: to do their best and get that degree and all the opportunities that come with it. And maybe they have dreams of going on to grad school or med school and getting Phd's and all that.
The truth is, all of us were there for one main reason: to get an education. Some people were more honest about that than others. In my case, I believed I was there because, you know, everyone goes to college. Everyone goes to a college that's totally great for them.
I just saw it as the situation I happened to be in at the time, and, you know, in every situation ya gotta put God first. So church comes before homework.
What if, for other people, homework HAD TO BE the most important thing, because if it wasn't the most important thing, they wouldn't have even come to this college in the first place?
So that's what privilege is. It means that, because of my background, stuff was easier for me than it is for other people, and it's easy for me not to even realize that.
It doesn't mean I didn't work hard. Of course I worked hard in school. And my parents worked really hard too, and they always encouraged me. So I never had to wrestle with the question "will I go to college or not? how?"
And that's a really good thing for me. Privilege is not automatically bad. Of course I'm really happy that I come from a background where everyone valued education. Yeah. Privilege doesn't mean I'm a bad person for having opportunities that other people didn't have.
It only becomes a bad thing if it makes me blind toward other people's reality. If it makes me judge my classmates for spending so much time on their homework, for *gasp* making their grades more important than God.
For me, it would have been pretty much impossible to not go to college. Other people aren't so lucky. And I need to actually care about that, instead of criticizing them.