understanding the true meaning of
privilege through mindfulness
a book project by jimmy ung
Through a monthly contribution on Patreon:
Through a one time contribution with Paypal:
I believe in people and have been dedicated to social change for over a decade through my work with youth and individuals who wish to have a meaningful and positive impact in their families, communities and the world.
Curiosity, Humility and Dialogue are at the heart of how I approach learning and sharing with others. It's also what has brought me here, to this project..
Over the years, I've had the privilege of meeting inspiring people and traveling to over 35 countries for personal, civic and professional commitments. This includes riding motorcycles through 40'000 km from Canadian Labrador to Argentine Patagonia, allowing for hundreds of face-to-face conversations and formally interviewing over 200 individuals in 18 countries about what they found most meaningful in their lives.
These encounters have been deeply transformative for my outlook on life and given me a unique perspective on what we all fundamentally share; a capacity to find meaning and happiness regardless of social, cultural and economic conditions, and moreover, a responsibility to become more aware of our interdependence, understanding it, and learning how to navigate through it, if we are to live together peacefully and overcome the challenges that face humanity.
about the book project
The idea of this project: a Book..! Emerges as an answer to my search for a vehicle that can qualitatively leverage my thoughts, reflections and lived experiences, in order to respond to key societal issues that relate to themes such as globalization, identity politics, cultural diversity, spirituality and social justice. My hope is to offer a set of unique perspectives and useful insights that would be grounded in a deeper understanding of the concepts of Privilege and Mindfulness than what we are currently exposed to in public discourse and existing published material.
In a world which I fully acknowledge, is already full of books about relatable topics, I have reflected in lengths about what another publication could contribute to the written landscape. In exploring this venue, I have come to realize that very little has actually been written about the subject of Privilege on its own, and even less so from the perspective of connecting it with Mindfulness. The latter subject has grown exponentially when it comes to self-care or improving efficiency in workplaces, but much less from a social justice perspective, which I intend to integrate.
That is why this project is so important to me, and why I want to dedicate the next year of my life to Researching, Interviewing, Thinking, Learning and naturally, Writing... on Privilege and Mindfulness! In order to create a unique body of knowledge that will be captured in a book, but also shared through my continued speaking engagements and facilitation work.
If you have 4 mins, take a look at this video on privilege by Adam Donye. My goal is to create a thoughtful response to its conclusion. Raising awareness about privilege is an essential first step, but encou collective actions that promote fairness between each other is ultimately what will lead to positive impacts.
My reflections on Privilege come from having grown up in a family of resettled war refugees from Cambodia, where I was exposed to the asymmetrical distribution of opportunities in our world. On the one hand, my family was first privileged when after 2 years of hardships, they escaped the Cambodian war and work camps in order to take refuge in UNHCR camps in Thailand, while so many others died under the Khmer Rouge regime. They were then further privileged to receive sponsorship in order to migrate to Canada, a developed country with much higher standards of living, of peace and security. Their journey in Canada however came with its set of challenges, mostly social and economic, but also cultural as they had to begin a new life in a new country with a language foreign to them, depending on the support of the government and charitable organizations at first, before working their way into creating decent conditions for themselves and eventually, for me as well.
As the beneficiary of this heritage, I have always been sensitive to social injustice, though always with a goal of understanding its deeper roots. Whenever I listen to stories from refugees arriving to Canada today, I am reminded of the struggles of my family, and the resilience they share in common.
Having had the opportunity to receive a university education, to work for various well-admired organizations in both public and private sectors, as well as travelled to several developing countries, I have continually been challenged with realizing and confronting the amount of privilege I was exercising.
Today, I realize that privilege comes in various colours, shapes and sizes, and that perhaps my role is to become aware more holistically of my privileges, and make a more responsible use of them. But how? This book project is the beginning of an answer I hope to explore and share with you.
If you have 3 mins, take a look at this video on mindfulness by the makers of Happify, an app/platform that promotes mindfulness practices for improving emotional wellbeing.
I first experienced meditation when I was 15 years old, while learning martial arts in a traditional school that valued mental practice as much as physical exercise. Over three years, I learned about buddhism, taoism and confucianism, as well as the importance of understanding the need for balance between the body and mind, our external and internal world. I would not be who I am today without that experience and training, at such a critical moment of my life.
Today, mindfulness meditation comes in many flavours, and while I fully acknowledge and value the significance of mindfulness in the scopes of personal/self-care (reducing stress and anxiety) and increasingly, in business/management (maximizing creativity and wellness at work), my interest rests in framing mindfulness within a social justice context; how to be a good and better citizen.
The idea of finding ways to better integrate mindfulness with a deeper understanding of privilege comes from my deep belief that thinking about personal and social change isn't enough; we also need to develop an effective practice if we truly want to transform ourselves and the world.
So often, we gain insightful knowledge, only to find ourselves unable to integrate this knowledge in our lives. A book on privilege alone, though informative, would likely be incomplete without a deliberate emphasis on developing a practical response to such insights. Mindfulness seems to me as the ideal companion for this journey.
I believe that mindfulness is about developing our mental capacity to handle living in a permanently interconnected world where thoughts of success and failure, joy and sadness, travel in and out of our attention span from all corners of the earth.
How do we figure out the best way to navigate through these changes and challenges? When things often appear to be simultaneously good and bad?
Understanding what we have (privilege) and where we are (mindfulness) is the answer I would like to offer!
objectives of the book
- To provide a more comprehensive DEFINITION of Privilege.
- To help identify the privileges we have (but often are unaware about).
- To better understand where our privileges come from.
- To provide a more nuanced UNDERSTANDING of Privilege.
- To identify ways to overcome guilt or shame from having Privileges.
- To understand the relationship between Privilege, Power & Responsibility.
- To learn how to use our Privileges in order to have positive social impacts.
- To identify and highlight best practices and resources.
- Better understand how to align Personal Development/Growth with Social Development/Impact
- Better understand what Mindfulness is through it various forms.
- Better understand the role of Mindfulness in giving meaning to our Privileges.
- Develop a practice of Mindfulness geared towards dealing with social issues.
why a patreon page?
Here is a 2 mins video that presents Patreon, a platform for supporting the creative work of individuals.
For this Book to become a reality, I am fortunately not short on ideas, nor of brilliant people around who inspire me. However, I do need money to sustain myself independently in order to fully dedicate my Time and Energy towards the labour of Love necessary to Create an exceptional Book about Privilege and Mindfulness. My current sources of income from speaking engagements and consulting work with schools on cultural diversity promotion and global citizenship education are very modest, unstable and honestly put, insufficient.
For the most part, I've been dedicating a lot of my time to doing work that I find deeply meaningful, but which often isn't paid much or at all. For the last 3 years, I have considered and justified these commitments as my way of giving back to society for the many opportunities I've received in my life. I set aside financial stability with the firm belief that I could measure my success not only by what I gain in life, but by what I give and am able to sacrifice. I now feel ready to move on from this isolating but transformative period of austerity, and that is why I have chosen to set up this Patreon page, so that those who acknowledge the importance of this kind of citizen driven work may support it more directly.
In other words, it is my way of asking you for help.
I acknowledge that it is a privilege to receive support for such an endeavour and my commitment is to dedicate these efforts towards contributing to the greater common good. I will also be posting exclusive content on my Patreon page along the way and share more intimate reflections about the process and journey itself!
With many thanks,
Research, Interviews & Writing: January 2019 - November 2019
Selection of Publisher: Summer/Fall 2019
Editing and proofreading: November 2019 - December 2019
Printing: Winter 2019/2020
Book launch: Winter/Spring 2020