There’s a man who is my brother, I just don’t know his name.
But I know his home and family because I know we feel the same.
And it hurts me when he’s hungry and when his children cry.
I too am a father, and that little one is mine.
It’s about time we begin it, to turn the world around.
It’s about time we start to make it, the dream we’ve always known.
It’s about time we start to live it, the family of man.
It’s about time, it’s about changes and it’s about time.
It’s about peace and it’s about plenty and it’s about time
Let’s do a small activity before we start off this blog. Add a point for everything you have or for every activity you’re able to do.
Subtract a point for every activity you can’t do or for everything you don’t have-
- You have a house
- You can sleep on a warm bed at the end of the day
- You have clean drinking water
- You eat two or more times a day
- You have more than 3 sets of clean clothes
- You have a television set
- You have a fast Wifi connection
- You have a fancy smartphone
- You can afford a vacation
- Your family owns a car/cycle/van
- You have electricity at all times
- You can go to a doctor when you get sick
- You can afford to shop at an expensive supermarket
- You can go watch a movie and buy ridiculously expensive popcorn
- You have gone/ still go to school/college
I’m going to assume most of you have a score of 12 or more. It’s quite awesome you have so much actually, it’s more than what most of the other humans on this planet have.
Let’s be quite honest here, most of us live in cozy, extremely privileged bubble which may never burst. I’m writing this to make you aware of the world beyond the bubble most of us live in. This isn’t to make you feel guilty of the privileges you have. Most of you work hard and you can afford a healthy and comfortable lifestyle and this is simply because you had an opportunity to do so. You went to a good school because your parents could afford to send you to one and you had good schools around you to choose from, but what happens when you don’t have this opportunity? Think about those children in extreme conditions of poverty where even going to a free school isn’t a choice as they would have to work to make ends meet instead of learning about alphabets and numbers
Think about those who don’t have clothes simply because in the choice between a shirt and a loaf of bread, a loaf of bread seems much more important.
It’s quite easy for us to comment on the poor and tell them to work harder while we sit on our leather couches with super fast internet and cool drinks to beat the heat, but unless we really understand the notion of privilege, we really can’t understand the sufferings of those who fall under the category of have-nots.
So what exactly is privilege? In simple terms it is defined as-a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
Let me give an example, a teacher chooses where her students would sit in class-
She makes 5 sit in the first row and 5 in the second row and so on until there are 5 in the last row of the class. She now starts doing a math sum on the blackboard but those at the back really can’t see what’s written, they call her out but she can’t hear them, those on the front however can see the sum very clearly and are quite happy that they are able to understand everything.
In the example, those in the back didn’t want to sit there and struggle but they simply had no other choice, they were pushed to the back by the teacher and may never understand the concept. On the other hand those in the front too didn’t choose their seats but were quite happy with the seat they got and didn’t pay heed to those at the back.
This special advantage those in the front got is the notion of privilege, Seems a little unfair ? Of course it is, in this way millions of people are denied access to food, water and other basic necessities which are required for human survival, Let us see a few hard hitting facts about this-
800 million people go to bed hungry each night.
That’s 1 in 9 people on a world population estimate of 7.6 billion today, About every 10 seconds a child dies from hunger- Let that sink in for a moment, every 10 seconds a child who should have been playing and enjoying life is instead dying of hunger.
The facts when it comes to access to clean drinking water is even worse- Approximately 1.1 Billion People (1 in 7) Lack Access To Safe Water. The next time you decide to spend an hour in the shower, think about this.
All those times you had a fever and your parents rushed you to the hospital? It felt quite normal didn’t it? Well for 400 million other fellow humans, access to health care is only imaginary, think about it, a child running a high fever but absolutely no one around them to help
This is unfortunately the sad reality of the world we live in today.
But the good part about this is that we can change this, let’s go back into the example I gave you, the students in the front can always make some space for those in the rows behind them can’t they?
By being grateful for the things we have and being more cautious when we use our resources, we can ensure they are available to more people. We should try thinking from the view of the oppressed and the low income groups of our society, this helps us understand how privileged we are to lead such comfortable lives.
The next time you pass through a slum, don’t cover you nose and raise your car windows, instead think about ways you could help them, it could be something as simple as donating a few blankets to them during winter or distributing some food or even talking to them about sanitation and cleanliness.
Remember to always be grateful for all the privileges you have in your life and take care to ensure you don’t exploit what’s been given to you.
Remember if you belong to group of people who can afford to lead a comfortable lifestyle, it’s your duty to give back to society in any way you think you should
Privilege in this sense can be a good thing too, it can be used to create change and help those who may need our attention. Try using your privilege for the betterment of mankind and not just to lead happy lives.