Responsibility I believe accrues through privilege. People like you and me have an unbelievable amount of privilege and therefore we have a huge amount of responsibility. We live in free societies where we are not afraid of the police; we have extraordinary wealth available to us by global standards. If you have those things, then you have the kind of responsibility that a person does not have if he or she is slaving seventy hours a week to put food on the table; a responsibility at the very least to inform yourself about power. Beyond that, it is a question of whether you believe in moral certainties or not.
Why are you not smarter? It's only the rich who can't afford to be smart. They're compromised. They got locked years ago into privilege. They have to protect their belongings. No one is meaner than the rich. Trust me. But they have to follow the rules of their shitty civilised world. They declare war, they have honour, and they can't leave. But you two. We three. We're free.
Nobody's busting into YOUR apartment at three in the morning, are they? Well, then don't worry about what they're doing in South Korea and places like that. It's like the standard of living. Are you content to achieve your higher standard of living at the expense of people all over the world who've got a lower standard of living? Most Americans would say yes. Now we ask the question, are you content to enjoy your political freedom at the expense of people who are less free? I think they would also say yes.
Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist, once asked a group of women at a university why they felt threatened by men. The women said they were afraid of being beaten, raped, or killed by men. She then asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women. They said they were afraid women would laugh at them.
Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long possessed that he is set free - he has set himself free - for higher dreams, for greater privileges.
When I got to college, the fake ID thing wasn't that important, since pretty much everyone could get away with drinking in New Orleans. But the drugs, well, that was a different story altogether, because drugs are every bit as illegal in New Orleans as anywhere else--at least, if you're black and poor, and have the misfortune of doing your drugs somewhere other than the dorms at Tulane University. But if you are lucky enough to be living at Tulane, which is a pretty white place, especially contrasted with the city where it's located, which is 65 percent black, then you are absolutely set.
The models we have, and the standards we are expected to maintain, come to us via heterosexuality as a normative state. Heterosexuality--whatever the current version of that concept happens to be--is unremarkable because it is the standard by which everything else is measured. That is heterosexual privilege.
I came to the conclusion a while ago that there is nothing romantic or supernatural about loving someone: Love is the privilege of being responsible for another. It was, for a time, what kept me going: Each morning, for a little while, I got to feel the weight of the yoke on my back as I pulled the ancient cart of my species.