Free Coffee is not a human right. Life Lessons #25 .

” The precedence of privilege tends to lead to the assumption and demand of right.”

This one comes from Mike McClaflin, Africa Regional Director, AGWM, former military officer and king of the short one line answer.

A few years ago, I heard Pastor Barnabas Mtokambali from Tanzania speaking about privilege.

“We bring pastors in from the village to the city to train them. They get used to 2 meals a day. They get used to public transport and they become spoiled.”

Two meals a day is spoiled? Public transport is spoiled?

Kind of redefines privilege doesn’t it?

Precedence: The first time you get free coffee at work, you are grateful. The first year you get a bonus, you’re over the moon. The first time dad lets you take the family car, you are grateful.

Privilege: Three months later, finances are tight, and coffee is suddenly a few pennies. Irate, aren’t cha? No bonus at the end of the year? There goes Christmas for the kids. You can’t drive the car until you pull your grades up? Who does he think he is!?

I am privileged. By virtue of my birth location, I can travel to most of the western world without a visa. To be brutally honest, my skin color opened lots of doors in Africa for me, even if they were occasionally opened with resentment.

Give someone privilege long enough and they come to view it as a right.

Three meals a day is the baseline standard for what we should expect. That expectation is in the basic charter for human rights, isn’t it? Or it the baseline “daily bread?”

Everything else is bonus.

Personal note: This sounds kind of preachy, and probably leaves you feeling like I’m being unrealistic, unfair. Perhaps. So I decided to try it out myself on myself.  In leading up to my 40th birthday, I went 40 days eating only one meal a day. I was amazed at how easy it was. The battle was mental, not physical. Food we need. How much is often culturally and convenience defined.


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