Privilege and Social Responsibility

Privilege and Social Responsibility

Let’s say you already know how to schedule your time to maximize productivity. In my experience, figuring out how to do something is always easier than figuring out what to do in the first place. So how does a person decide what to do with their life?

Tai Lopez, of “here in my garage” fame, promotes the law of 33%. According to Lopez, you should spend a third of your time with people below you, a third of your time with people at your level, and a third of your time with people far above you. The idea here is that you get to serve the community, spend time with your peers, and learn from mentors. The Law of 33 percent is kind of like MyPlate (for those not familiar with MyPlate, it’s the succesor to the food pyramid. In fact, the food pyramid was phased out by the USDA in 2011 after a bunch of people complained it was too confusing and abstract, and made PE class too hard for third graders). Like MyPlate, the Law of 33% describes a balanced diet of choices that we can all follow to live healthy and meaningful lives. Just follow the law and you will reap the reward, right?

Not necessarily. Like MyPlate, the Law of 33% is basically impossible for most people to follow — can you imagine 50% of your diet being fruits and vegetables? I don’t think that’s for me. When given the choice between raw kale and a baked potato, my choice is clear. Jokes aside, the law of 33 percent is impractical because it oversimplifies a complex decision-making process. However, the basic principles of the law hold true in any scenario. When interpreted in a broader sense, the Law of 33% becomes a great way to think about some of our biggest internal conflicts.

Before we can get into the details, though, there’s an important catch here: what does it mean to be better than someone else? Is it not inherently problematic to say or even imply that a group of people is inferior? Morally, it’s not too hard to think of people we believe are superior or inferior to us. The Dalai Lama? Superior. Dr. Doofenshmirtz? Not so much. Ultimately, however, moral superiority is subjective, just the way it should be. What I’m more interested in is privilege: the advantages acquired by a person through no action of their own. Defining privilege as a basis for the slippery ideas of “superiority” allows us to act on the Law of 33%.

With the technicalities out of the way, we can move on to how the Law of 33% might be implemented in a person’s life. To begin with, we each have to understand our level of privilege. For this exercise, it’s helpful to consider both your immediate surroundings and your position in the world at large. After all, the poorest of the poor in the Hamptons might find their situation deplorable, until they expand their perspective to include the greater New York community.

After that, allocating time to follow a 33% principle is simply a matter of planning. If a certain amount of time is to be allocated to neighborhood parties (which usually involve those of a similar class), a similar amount of time can be allocated to mentoring underprivileged youth, while another unit of time can be committed to working on a project with experienced advisors.

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