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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Privilege!

In common, I suspect, with a great number of people within the United Kingdom, I am something of a republican, but with a genuine respect for H.M. The Queen, and the Duke of Edinburgh.  Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, is also one for whom I have some respect.  There are, however, all too many of H.M's. relatives who are, in my opinion, mere 'hangers-on'; scroungers; people who have a great deal of totally undeserved privilege simply because of an accident of birth.

However, as I lay by the swimming-pool in our favourite French camp-site last week, in temperatures that reached 40 degrees celsius, with our modern caravan pitched close by, having booked for the communal meal that evening, I realised how privileged I am - and by the same kind of "accident of birth" as the royals!  My parents were honest, hard-working, ordinary folk.  But they gave me a great start in life.  I was born into a country with a National Health Service; with clean water on tap; with gas and electricity; with an ample supply of food; with a temperate climate.  Our home was no palace - but it was certainly a home in which love was never in short supply.  What did I do to deserve all of that?  Absolutely nothing!  An accident of birth.

I lay there thinking to myself (often a dangerous activity!).  If I had been born out of the union of two people in, for example, certain African countries, I would have been born into a situation in which clean water; basic sanitation; readily available, and adequate, food supplies; medical, ophthalmic, and dental treatment; appropriate shelter; all would have been in short supply - or totally non-existent.  I might even have been born HIV-positive because either/both of my parents were already suffering from AIDS.  An accident of birth.

Perhaps I could have been born to a couple in a culture in which marriages are arranged, and enforced.  I might well have enjoyed many of the material benefits that I did enjoy - but there might have been a total lack of love.  Being born into a culture in which the Gospel message is not only unpreached, but also illegal, would certainly have made a major difference to my personal life.  An accident of birth.

So, perhaps I will be less critical of certain members of the Royal family in the future.  Perhaps I'll remember that I enjoy privileges, as they do, for no other reason than an accident of birth.  Privilege, I have come to realise, is very much a relative concept!

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