Civity and Inequities - and Privilege
Snails and caterpillars - what do these have to do with privilege? And what do they have to do with Civity?!
The short video "Sometimes You’re a Caterpillar" describes how squeezing under a fence to get to a garden party might be really easy if you’re a caterpillar but not so easy for your friend the hard-shelled snail.
Some of our most challenging social divides involve inequities – inequities that correlate to race, to gender, to religion, to “have versus have-not,” to sexual orientation, to ethnicity.
The word “privilege” describes people who are, for one reason or another, on the “greater than” side of an unequal social relationship.
“Privilege” can be a very difficult word to hear because a lot of times we don’t think of ourselves as privileged. We think of ourselves as just “normal.”
How can it be that we are privileged if we are “normal”?
The essence of privilege is that being “normal” is an advantage - because the world is often designed for people who are “the norm.”
Yet “normal” people may not realize that the world can be especially difficult for people who are not “the norm.” After all, being “normal” doesn’t mean that life is always easy!
And so caterpillars who can easily wriggle under a fence may not think that their snail friend might have a hard time getting that hard shell through a narrow gap.
Caterpillars are privileged because getting to the party is easier for them. And they’re also privileged because they don’t have to think about the obstacles snails might be facing, occasionally or on a regular basis.
For a caterpillar, hearing a snail’s story can ignite understanding of how “normal” experience may not, in fact, be the “norm.”
For people, engaging in Civity Conversations offers the opportunity to walk at least a few steps in someone else’s shoes. By making visible what may have previously been invisible, Civity moves caterpillars and snails - and people - toward addressing deeply-entrenched inequities.