Born on Third Base
Living in the North Country is quite an intriguing experience. In any given moment you can have a conversation with a millionaire or a farmer, depending on how comfortable you are with people, and where in the North Country you might currently be.
Every semester Professor Deb Light and I co-teach a course titled Examining Diversity through Film. When we get to our theme of socio-economic class we read an article that makes the assertion that many people, in terms of their economic position, will deny that they are privileged, not recognizing that they were born on third base. Some people will become irate in explaining that they worked hard for their success. The fact that you have worked hard for your success doesn’t negate the fact that you may still be standing on someone else’s shoulders, especially in contrast to others who never had the opportunity to stand on someone's shoulders.
So, what does being “born on third base” mean? Well by now you have figured out that it means you have opportunities available to you, which position you on third base, without you having to go through first, or second to get there. It means that you are 90 feet away from home, from the ultimate prize within the game. Many of us don’t think about how much better we are positioned for success when we never had to work in high school or college; consistently traveled in our youth which added to our worldly sophistication; had two working parents or perhaps one working parent and a financially secure home life supported by one stay at home parent; one or less siblings; parents that genuinely enjoyed one another’s company, which contributed to a stable environment; lived in a thriving, respectful environment where you could walk the streets at night or inadvertently leave your car or home unlocked at night; etc.
Many of the students then think this let’s them off the hook if they don’t originate from a middle to upper middle class background. And considering we live in a capitalistic society where wealth and/or material possessions are celebrated, if you didn’t have those highly valued social trappings you could convince yourself that you weren’t privileged enough to start the game situated on third base. Is it possible that there are some other ways beyond economic reasons that many of us may be starting the game in an advanced position? We may not be on third base, but starting at first or second is still an advantage, isn’t it? What are some of the ways that others may be advantaged in this game called life that they may never have truly considered?
Do you think there is merit in creating a society where people are challenged to consider their privilege?
What type of world would we live in if our children were taught some of the things that many of us as adults now realized we missed in our formative years?