Privilege versus doing the right thing

I have been reflecting a lot on “doing the right thing” (higher moral ground?) versus what one might have the “privilege” of doing as an autocrat or totalitarian.  Privilege, from the dictionary sense, as defined as a noun:

  1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich.
  2. a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities: the privilege of a senator to speak in Congress without danger of a libel suit.
  3. a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.
  4. the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.
  5. any of the rights common to all citizens under a modern constitutional government: We enjoy the privileges of a free people.
  6. an advantage or source of pleasure granted to a person: It’s my privilege to be here.
  7. Stock Exchange. an option to buy or sell stock at a stipulated price for a limited period of time, including puts, calls, spreads, and straddles.
Or, as a verb (used with object), privileged, privileging:
8. to grant a privilege to.
9. to exempt (usually followed by from).
10. to authorize or license (something otherwise forbidden).
Whereas, “doing the right thing” is defined as a verb (idiomatic):   To do what is ethical (adjective – Ethical is defined as moral or conforming to standards of conduct, such as treating others with civility) or just (adjective – The definition of just is fair or right.)


The reason I am reflecting so much on these two philosophical concepts is what has been going on for the past 100 days in our condo association.


Many might say that I have a bias because I took the reins of the Association from the Declarant in March of 2014 and led the Board as its President for 4 years. I started out with a good business background, learning as I went from some really good mentors and over those 4 years, led us through transition and into the future.
There were owners who did not care for me personally as well as my philosophy.  My philosophy was inclusive and caring. I cared ( and continue to care) intensely for the property, the business and the community. Each morning I felt the burden of the office because upon waking, and before going to sleep each night, I asked myself two questions:
1.  What liability will we (or did we) face today?
2.  What will the cost (money and more) be for the property, the business and the community?
I brought to the attention of the Board some issues that were not very popular. The major one was the Construction Defect Study and subsequent lawsuit. The study itself had been placed in motion by the previous Declarant Board which had the two resident board members initiate the study investigation by interviewing potential engineering firms and attorney representation. But the Transition Resident Board had to actually take the action on the Construction Defect Study by choosing an engineering firm and attorney of record. Finally, we had to go through an appeal process when the Superior Court found for the Defendants in the Defect litigation. This made me, in particular, and the Board, in general, a target for those owners who had a bone to grind with us. The Construction Defect litigation was used as the excuse to divide the community, cause hate and discontent, and to eventually defeat the Board members who dared to try to be reelected to complete the litigation (in the words of one previous Board member: “The inmates have taken over the asylum”.) We did win our appeal, however so we should be back on track to repair certain defects.

More on this conundrum in a another entry. There are things going on here that defy my imagination.  Yet, as I have read the national forum at CAI (Community Association Institute), there are communities that have amazing problems with their boards as well as neighbors. So I should not be surprised.

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