In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
... In consequence I'm inclined to reserve all judgements....
[end excerpt -- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald]
Last Friday, was posting about the Culture Fair & joking about "WASP" stereotypes.
Checked internet to see how they define WASP, or if it was even referred to --
I found the Wikipedia definition / description to be wanting, and unbalanced.
"White Anglo-Saxon Protestant or WASP is an informal term, often disparaging, for a closed group of high-status Americans usually of British descent with a Protestant background who supposedly wield disproportionate financial and social power."
--------------- Whew! I need to lie down!
Besides being a run-on sentence, that long, choppy, exhausting claim seems out-of-whack, to me.
As I understand it, "WASP" means what the letters stand for -- and yes, it probably came about because of some kind of -- needing to label a certain group of people. They're the people who do not usually get labeled, and my understanding, from very small and humble background, is it means you are more fortunate than some people simply because there doesn't tend to be "prejudice against" you, and partly because of this, you have an obligation to be concerned with
a sense of fair play, and
a low-key, inclusive patriotism.
Obligation, not privilege.
The privileges which come with wealth are available to anyone, of any race, color, or creed, who can make the Money.
When Wikipedia says it's "disparaging" -- that's a strong word. The word "WASP" doesn't carry much "sting" (pardon pun) -- and then it says, "a closed group" --
what are they talkin' about??
There isn't a closed group, that I'm aware of.
And then it says, "high-status."
I don't even know what that means.
I mean, I know it's a word, but I get the feeling that the Wikipedia description is using it in a non-legitimate way -- to sort of whack people over the head with...
The "WASP" term only means that your ancestors came from England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, basically.
Does that give anyone any "status"? Well, in earlier times, some people believed that coming from "an old family" was something. Where they know the family history...
The way I see it, where one's ancestors came from may be a point of family pride, as in being proud of your own family's adventures and accomplishments, but it isn't a way to be "better than" anyone else, if that is what "status" is supposed to denote. History's just history; it's past. What is meaningful in the present, is how we treat one another, and the work we do.
If I look at my family background & compare with an Hispanic friend, the case could be made that England simply got tired of my ancestors centuries before Mexico got tired of hers! -- i.e., maybe my ancestors were just more obnoxious than hers...?!
Wikipedia is a great tool, for fast reference to things you want to check out, but it isn't totally accurate. It's just people sending in the info that they know, or think they know.
It's an interesting resource, but it "ain't gospel."
(Think maybe the guy who wrote that got the word "WASP" mixed up with the word "parochial snob.")
[Gatsby] -- Reserving
judgements is a matter
of infinite hope.