“Check your privilege!” we are admonished left and right.
But as I have been deep-diving into the life and times of some historical figures, a stark truth was rammed home.
What about checking our privilege of living in the 21st century?!
Consider the following.
Johann Sebastian Bach buried his brother at age six, and both his parents at age nine. Fewer than half his own children survived into adulthood.
This was normal at the time.
Mind you, Bach wasn’t part of any oppressed ethnic or religious minority, nor did he grew up in poverty. By the standards of the time and place (Thuringia in the late 17th century), his parental home — that of Eisenach town piper Johann Ambrosius Bach — was solidly middle class, if not upper middle class.
Never mind that paupers today have luxuries at their fingertips no king or emperor in Bach’s day could have dreamed of, and that kings and princes alike died senseless early deaths from diseases we can routinely cure in a couple of days.
Such as Bach himself, who died at age 65 from complications of quack surgery for what appears to have been cataracts — today a 10-minute outpatient procedure. Never mind that he died, if not a rich man, a rather well-to-do man by 1750 Leipzig standards.
Yes, by all means, check your privilege.
Of being born in the richest and most developed era in history.
And celebrate it.