Got Privilege? Use John McCain’s Example of How To Use It For Good

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

The death of Sen. John McCain resulted in an outpouring of tributes expressing sympathy, respect, and honor.

As I listened to and read the testimonials of praise, I found myself fixated on his capture in Vietnam.

I couldn’t shake the fact that he could have used his privilege (the prominence of his storied military family) to be released early but chose to stand with his fellow POWs. For me, that spoke volumes about his character – that he would sacrifice his own freedom and well-being to demonstrate solidarity with his comrades.

I began to ponder: What kind of spirit drives a person to do something like that? What kind of heart do you need to do something like that? What kind of mindset must you have to do something like that?

It takes a mind set on doing the right thing. It takes a servant’s heart. And it takes a spirit of love.

Was John McCain perfect? No, he was flawed like the rest of us. But he had integrity and dignity.

John McCain, in his refusal of a preferential release in Vietnam, demonstrated for us how to use privilege the right way. He showed us how to be a good ally.

In recent months, I have had several conversations with friends and acquaintances who ask how they can use their privilege to help others.

My response has been that they not allow frustration to force them into inaction; that they resist the temptation of seeing themselves as guardian angels; and that they find ways to use their privilege to advocate for those who don’t have the same advantage.

Advocacy, of course, takes different forms – it could mean building a trusting relationship with someone; it could mean putting yourself in harm’s way for the benefit of someone else; it could mean aligning yourself with a cause, purpose, individual or group, etc.

But looking at John McCain’s sacrifice, I think I need to walk back my response and talk a little more about motivation. I’m thinking something like: privilege is something that needs to be checked repeatedly, when interacting with or advocating for those without a favored position or circumstance; and your interaction or advocacy needs to be fueled by a spirit of love, a servant’s heart and a desire to do the right thing.

Then, I will point to John McCain as an example of a person who put service to others over and above his own self interests.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

17 responses to “Got Privilege? Use John McCain’s Example of How To Use It For Good

  1. Nicely said. But I wish he had held onto that integrity as a U.S. Senator. Wish he had showed less partisanship. Sarah Palin? He helped give her a national platform. Wonder when he decided Obama was worthy? Certainly not during the majority of Obama’s 8 years in office. I know I’m a glass half-empty type of person.

  2. The TV Specials caused me to examine who JohnMccain was. I thought I knew something about him but I was really uninformed. Honesty, integrity, people who knew him loved and respected him because he alliwed them to know him.
    His chief of staff, his Mexican American friend, Laary Fitzgerald. Their expressions of love were so sincere. They knew him. He was quick to admit and take responsibility for errors, but did you see him whip that microphone out of the hand of the woman disparaging Obama? That is integrity in action.

  3. Thanks Colette,
    John McCain was a man of Integrity!!! He believed in the goodness of all. Now we have to act with this integrity in our daily lives.

  4. When I lived in AZ, I felt that John McCain could be counted on to be a voice of reason and integrity. He is one of the last voices of true bipartisanship in politics. He knew how to argue with passion for what he believed in, but also to listen to others and be willing to be changed. Thanks for your observation, Collette.

  5. He’s choosing Obama to deliver Eulogy spoke volumes for me — as I think it was he’s way of asking forgiveness after the many ways he obstructed his agenda. May he rest in peace.

  6. Thanks Colette, for your interesting observation of John McCains service to others. He deserves to be treated with honor and respect.

  7. Thanks, Colette. I think what I have been struck by is the depth of living spiritual he opened himself to as he sat in captivity. Hate did not find a home within him. He learned to speak the truth to power and yet love deeply. True grace.

  8. Thanks, Colette. I think what I have been struck by is the depth of living spiritual he opened himself to as he sat in captivity. Hate did not find a home within him. He learned to speak the truth to power and yet love deeply. True grace.

  9. Thanks, Colette. Well said. I too was so moved by his integrity. I wish I had known all that about him sooner.

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