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Privileged? Yes
Jeff Whitten may 2017

It’s time to fess up. I’m white.
According to some, that and that alone makes me privileged, which online dictionaries define as “having special rights, advantages or immunities.” My first thought was “whut.”
But yeah, I’m privileged. I don’t know if this is merely a product of my skin color, but I’m not going to argue. Life’s too short, for one thing.
Besides, I can’t deny I’ve had advantages, starting with two caring parents who sacrificed much to raise me, and who have taught me what it is to be loved unconditionally, and to try every day to be good people.
Not everyone is so lucky. What’s more, I didn’t do anything to earn my parents. They were there when I got here.
I am also privileged to have a loving wife who puts up with my weirdness and tendency to leave cabinets and drawers and doors open, and lose things. I don’t know how I earned that advantage, either. Or how it is that I’m privileged to have food to eat and a place to go home to when so many face deprivation and hardships we can’t imagine. I’m privileged to live, period. To draw breath.
And because animals teach us so much about how to be human, I am privileged to have known some great dogs and cats over the years, including a cat named after Bruce Springsteen who smoked - no kidding, he’d sort of huff whatever ash there was in ashtrays back when everybody smoked and then space out and attack stuff that wasn’t there - and a fat poodle that was really a chihuahua named Peewee. I never really liked chihuahuas, but I loved Peewee.
What else? I am privileged to have friends from all walks of life who can make me laugh, and think, and worry, and then realize that at the end of the day we’re all only here for a short amount of time in the great scheme of things. Not everyone has that advantage.
I am privileged to be a veteran, because it got me a free license plate and I can say I’m part of an elite few, even if truth be known I was a career E-4 field artilleryman who got a free trip to Germany out of the deal.
I am privileged to be able to read and write, and to work in a job at which, while I may not excel, at least I’m earnest. And we all should know it’s important to be earnest.
I’m privileged to be from South Carolina, the greatest state in the universe despite all its faults. I am privileged to live in Georgia, and the United States, where, to quote a song I really never liked “at least I know I’m free.”
Compared to those in North Korea, oh yes I’m privileged. What’s more, I’ve got my health and my five senses. To be able to hear, to see, to taste, to smell, to exist without undue pain.
I’m privileged to be here today and know I’ll be gone one tomorrow, but at least I got to live. That’s a privilege.
Some may think all my good fortune is entirely due to my skin color, and there’s not much I can do about that. But I know I have been privileged, any way you look at it. I can’t argue that.
Whitten is managing editor of the Bryan County News.

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