Lance Scranton: A word about privilege |

Lance Scranton: A word about privilege

Lance Scranton
Courtesy photo
One of the things that drives me crazy when I try to listen to the news is how every interviewer seems to be trying to come up with the “gotcha” question. Maybe it’s something new being taught in journalism schools on college campuses across the country. Maybe it’s born of a desire for ratings or because the interviewer has an agenda. Did objective journalism have a sunset clause that kicked in the morning of the last election?

For those of us who are tasked with trying to fashion lessons from the surrounding culture to help make lessons relevant; it is difficult to try and teach the value of discourse. Everything is a debate, fashioned to determine a winner or a loser; it’s a zero-sum game of making the other person look as bad as possible. Trying to teach children that listening, asking questions and trying to learn something as a means of discussion is almost impossible.

The only way some people think they can be heard or taken seriously is to yell loudly and base all of their decisions on personal experience, as if the individual events that make up a person’s life are the primary determining factor for any discussion about how one should be treated. Should someone offer a possible solution for the fact that two-parent families tend to provide a more stable environment to foster child development; someone inevitably screams as loudly as they can that they didn’t have that kind of privilege.

Privilege and grievance appear in just about every discussion about social pathologies these days, as if the causes and effects are not as important as the diagnosis of the inescapable personal disadvantage each one of us carries with us. Should a parent have ever done anything to subvert the full and absolute pursuit of a child’s happiness; the discussion of any responsibility for diagnosing a possible way forward is barricaded behind an immutable wall of victimhood.

However, students who realize and understand that we all come to life with a host of different experiences that challenge our ability to succeed will inevitably use past experience (sometimes very painful) to find a way forward. Our past shouldn’t determine our future, but too often these days, the past gets in the way of any movement forward or must advance at the expense of those who might have figured a way out. If we could listen, ask questions and learn from each other, things might just be a whole lot better.

Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.

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