While I wasn’t drowning in luxuries while growing up, I did have a few highlights and had more than the required basic amenities in life. I’m male, educated and free. I can read and write in two languages. I have access to healthcare. I’m privileged. I understand that and I acknowledge it.
About Larger Issues
That understanding is precisely why I got furious on my friend the other day. I overheard him and another friend talking about Toilet, the recently released Bollywood movie. While I watched the movie and didn’t like it much, I understand that the issue it tries to portray very well exists.
My friend was… oblivious to it. Even going as far as to comment that the movie was for a small segment of people who still follow such things. His lack of empathy is perhaps what I am completely tired of seeing in those around me.
To be blank and ignorant for something that ruins lives and to refuse to understand it even after its screamed and shouted in front of you doesn’t speak of great emotional intelligence, to say the least.
Yes, you can have problems and yes, you may not care about those who have bigger and more real ones for a while. However, a little decency never did anyone any harm.
About Being Poor
I have another friend who constantly rants about how poor he is. He does that while he’s sipping coffee in a café with his friends (us) who come from similar backgrounds while wearing nothing less than Vans’ sneakers and Levi’s jeans. It’s gotten to the point that we actually, explicitly tell him to shut up about his poverty.
This isn’t just one of them. This is most people I know. I watch people shrug beggars away while stepping out of restaurants, hotels and theatres. While no one is asking you to feed people, at least be human and have the decency to treat humans and animals like living things.
It gets even worse when you put in the fact that I study in one of the most expensive universities in one of the most expensive cities of the country.
If You Can Read This Article, You Are Privileged
No one is telling you that your privilege is wrong. All that is expected of you, ideally, is to acknowledge it. Just look in the mirror and realise that you live an urban life without the lack of anything that hinders your existence. In clearer words, you’re privileged as fuck.
Who are you kidding? Look. You’re reading words on a computer/mobile screen while people don’t have enough to eat or access to clean water. No one’s asking you to go out and start helping people while that is the best way to return your privilege anyway.
I don’t do a lot of volunteering but I do have lunch with people on the street. I do buy them meals and try to have a conversation. As soon as I started earning enough for myself, I started donating to causes and organisations I care about. That is because I understand my privilege. I know that I am in a place to give back and so I do it. I’ll never stop, in fact, I’ll only increase helping others who weren’t lucky enough to have the conditions that I had. The very conditions that allowed me to type this post from a Starbucks. Sipping coffee that is way over someone’s daily wage.
Even if I don’t do all the above, I would still never shrug someone on the road, sidewalk or my thoughts off because they are poor and weren’t born with a spoon up their ass. I don’t even care if it was golden, silver or bronze. I had stainless steel spoon up mine and I know that because I put food with it inside my mouth throughout the last twenty years without skipping one meal unless I wanted to.
This isn’t about taking a moral high ground, its common sense.
It’s Okay To Be Privileged, It’s Not Okay To Be Oblivious
Privilege is fine. You were born in a house you didn’t choose. You didn’t know what you were going to get when you were that little sperm. However, when you’re oblivious and ignorant to issues that clearly exist, you’re not a little sperm, you’re a little asshole.
I recently came across this wonderful privilege test from Buzzfeed India. No, this isn’t sponsored. I genuinely loved it as I was already working on this post since a few of days now. I urge you to take the test below and stop pitying yourself for a minute because you scored low on a class test or your GPA is dipping. Most people don’t get to have class tests. Even today. You can even take one on the internet, obviously.
If you were wondering, I got 83/127 which translated to Extremely Privileged. I accept that. I’ll make sure I make someone else’s day better. I’ll try to make some lives better. I know that much. I have to do it as a human being. It’s a genuine responsibility.
Here’s a little something I came up with, I believe reading it once can help those who literally have no clue what’s happening right in front of them. I abide by this, I hope you will too.
The Privilege Pledge
I am privileged. I know this because I can read this or say it out loud. People of the world have disastrous issues affecting their lives and while I can’t do a lot about them right now, I know them. I understand them. Food, water and health care are always near me and I have never had to lose them for even the shortest fleeting moments. I know life is hard but it is still a darn good one because I can throw my opinion out in the world freely so I promise I’ll do it with responsibility. I understand my blessings and I will do good by those gifts by trying and helping those who didn’t receive as much.