Someone mentioned the other day that I had a ‘privileged’ background. It’s difficult to deny, but it left me eager to qualify.
When the term ‘privileged’ is used, the imagination can run wild with visions of nannies and maids, gated driveways and country clubs, sports cars and travel. I think it’s important to redefine it, or at least refine the definition in the context of the Old Money culture.
There are some aspects of ‘privilege’ we need to articulate and remember. Here we go…
First, you come from a privileged background if you grew up in a home with love. All the material possessions in the world mean nothing to a child who grew up without it. Love includes caring enough to spend time, to communicate, to educate, and to discipline. It’s a warmth and a light that comforts and guides in a way that no tangible thing can.
Second, you come from a privileged background if you were raised by someone who set a good example. My father often encouraged me to ignore everything he said…and simply watch everything he did. As a young person, it was incredibly irritating. As an adult, I find it tremendously inspiring. He set a good example, and I had to respect that. These days, I find myself compelled to emulate it.
Third, you come from a privileged background if someone taught you values from an early age. These are the Core Values I detail in The Old Money Book. If you learn these as a young person, your road may still be winding and steep, but it won’t be as rough. Values make many things go smoothly.
Fourth, you come from a privileged background if you have learned to practice empathy. Empathy is the ability to intimately understand how another person is feeling, to walk a mile in their shoes, as the old saying goes. Another comment I recently heard and liked was this: the rich man should know how the poor man lives; the poor man should know how the rich man works. So much of the class hatred we’re seeing in the world stems from this lack of empathy. To be wealthy and still be able to understand in very personal terms how hard life can be for less fortunate people is to be privileged. The same can be said for someone of modest means really understanding the work and risk that some wealthy people shoulder every day.
Finally, you come from a privileged background if you are aware that, regardless of your financial position, you must give back to the world. Many people never realize this and lead hollow lives despite having every material comfort. They accomplish great things. They make a name for themselves. Still, there’s a vacancy that, ironically, only charity and selfishness can fill.
So, based on these new criteria, did you come from a ‘privileged background’? Are there other aspects I didn’t mention?