The 1940s Nazis had a deceptive phrase plastered above the entrances to their human-extermination camps for all the poor souls to read as they marched inside to their inevitable death and misery: arbeit macht frei.
"Work sets you free".
As gruesomely cynical was this usage in those abysmal, wretched circumstances, the phrase itself is entirely true -- for free people. Work DOES set us free, so to speak.
It frees our spirit, making it unencumbered by the guilt of parasites and the apathetic. It makes us proud of who we are, confidently circumspective about ourselves and our lives. It connects us and grounds us to reality. It makes the moments away from work more "free-spirited", allowing us to enjoy art and music and friendship and romance more fully.
It gives us identity. Work IS identity. It is who we are. It is our primary relationship with reality, our primary creativity, our primary challenge. It solidifies our being, occupies our thoughts, bolsters our confidence, giving us an emotional euphoria.
The immense satisfaction of good, hard, creative work does, indeed, set us "free" -- in spirit. There is no personal reproach over what we should be doing, or for mooching off of others, or for being lazy, or for not pursuing happiness, or for not being productive and responsible. We have purpose, and we are fulfilling our purpose.
In a free or semi-free marketplace, like most industrialized countries, there are thousands of different jobs available -- a veritable smorgasbord -- from which we can choose to actualize our own identity, our own preference in fulfilling work.
We can start our own business for these jobs, or we can even create a whole new line of jobs, as happened with hundreds of industries in our industrial/tech/capitalism era -- automotive, computers, programming, fashion design, movies, music, space, science, chemistry, planes, yoga, fitness trainers, nutrition specialists, writers, pharmacists. The list is endless.
The poorest child in the most abusive household can pursue his favorite job and become a billionaire, if he wishes (Starbucks' Howard Schultz; TV icon Oprah Winfrey). The richest child in a constructive household can do the same -- though he may already be a billionaire (Sam Walton scion).
In a free society, rags and riches are determined by only one thing: determination -- except for a very few who start out at or near the top of the money pile.
But the terms "rags" and "riches" refer to money -- not work, and not happiness.
The one thing that all people, rich and poor, have in common is that they have to actually figure out what kind of work will fulfill their identity -- what kind of work will "complete them". No amount of money supplants this personal discovery, and money does not buy happiness. Only good, creative work "buys" happiness.
The poor girl and the billionaire boy start out with exactly the same psychological potential. Each has to decide what their creative work will be. Ironically, this discovery can actually be easier on the girl starting from nothing because there is no peer pressure or family pressure for her to go into the rich family business. The up-and-coming Oprah specifically chose broadcasting work because it excited her.
It is work's soul-completion and the determination it takes to find the right job that belies the liberal propaganda about and obsession with "privilege". Privilege cannot help you choose your best job. It can perhaps help you get that job in some cases, but it can't help you with your soul-searching, with your career choice of optimum satisfaction.
There is no such thing as two people born with the exact same abilities and exact same economic status. Doesn't exist. Never has. Somebody somewhere always has some advantage (privilege) over us, even among twins born in the same home.
Phil Donahue allegedly had immensely more privilege than Oprah, but she ended up smoking him in the ratings, becoming 10 times more successful.
Small-town Southern boy Sam Walton was up against retail giant K-Mart and others with "privilege", but he smoked them eventually with determination and ingenuity.
There are millions of other untold stories of less "privileged" kids beating out their "superiors" in millions of jobs and college entrances throughout the world each year.
Privilege may gain you better and/or quicker access to higher education or higher jobs or higher connections in the beginning of your young adulthood, but it doesn't eliminate the primary aspect of the identity-filled life: finding the job that completes you as a person -- and going after it.
History is, unfortunately, littered with the corpses of rich kids who committed suicide or ultimately lived in abject poverty because of poor life-desicions and squandering, or became addicted to drugs and apathy -- because they never did the hard discovery of finding out who they are, finding out specifically which job completed them.
Privilege doesn't help one to think.
Have a lot of money or being a certain race or gender may, on occasion, help you or hinder you, once you've figured out what you want to do with your life. But none of these things can make you successful if you are not being rational -- or stop you, if you are being rational.
There is NO job that any person cannot attain, if they are determined -- whether they have privileges or not. Abraham Lincoln rose from the poorest conditions in a log cabin to the presidency of the United States, and Frederick Douglass rose from slavery in a racist society to be an esteemed writer, abolitionist leader, women's rights leader -- and to confer regularly with Lincoln himself.
Leftists and others who propagandize about "privilege" fail to understand this. They resent privilege and capitalism, and so they see only victims and disadvantages, instead of heroes and hard work. They are skeptics of human ability and industry. They pretend to want to help their victims, and their victims are often blind to the condescension of such help.
And they blank out the fact that privilege is most often the result of previous hard work by previous generations of determined people -- who deserved their "privilege".
The Left use "privilege" as a means to aggrandize government to "help" so-called victims, so-called "underprivileged". They willfully refuse to see that self-fulfillment in work is not a matter of where you start or how you're helped. It is about self-discovery and self-determination.
Human beings who take pride in their own minds, in themselves, don't care about where they start. They don't care about who's rich and who isn't. They wouldn't think of demanding that the government "even the playing field". Freedom evens the playing field, for the privileged and the underprivileged.
With freedom, we have the privilege, so to speak, to undertake any endeavor, any job, any discovery. With freedom, there are no victims of the marketplace. We are the captain and commander of our own destiny, just like Oprah and Walton and Schultz and millions of others. We find the work that completes us and gives us pride.
And sets us free.