Privilege

IMG 3124


InStyle Magazine featured "badass" women in its July 2020 issue. At first, I thought, yawn, I'm so tired of throwing that word around. Is being badass really so great? But I changed my mind the minute I started reading.

They're all little gems, but take a look at what Melissa McCarthy has to say: "Being a badass is wearing your mask even though it may be uncomfortable and hot and your glasses fog up. A badass sucks it up because it's not just about protecting yourself. It's about protecting everyone. We're all in this together."

I had just been thinking about that on my run this morning. For the first mile, I was fine in my new adjustable sports mask, but by the end of mile three, I was really uncomfortable. Here's the thing about running. Sometimes it's really uncomfortable. We run ten miles or we run hill repeats or fast intervals. It's fun, sure, but sometimes it just hurts. To be sure, the mask means I won't run as far or as fast as I might without it. That doesn't mean I get to choose not to wear a mask.

Not everyone on the bosque trails was wearing a mask. Dear reader, you may be happy to know that I resisted the urge to scold or scowl. That will not encourage others to wear a mask, though my running with one might.

This resistance to mask-wearing is not incidental but instead is integral to American society. During the 1918 flu pandemic, we saw this same resistance. This is not simply because we believe in our "freedom." Instead, it's rooted in our nation's unwillingness to distinguish between rights and privileges.

Ahmed Arbery went for a jog in his neighborhood when he was gunned down by racist thugs. He had a right to run without being murdered. The men who shot him did not have a right to own and shoot guns or a right to conduct a citizen's arrest. They believed they did, and they were joined in that belief by a police and court system that is deeply racist and wholly privileged.

I don't have a right to run without feeling hot and uncomfortable in a mask. That's a privilege. I must forego that privilege because I have a responsibility to my community. We need to talk less about rights and freedoms in the US and more about privileges and responsibility. There is no freedom without responsibility. There is no freedom if only some of us get to be free and to be safe. That's not freedom. It's privilege.