From the attic of memories ~ Day # 8 (On privilege)
NOUN a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
Privilege comes in different forms. I am privileged in more than one ways and still I at times struggle to understand the reality of a situation. Though I do make conscious attempts, I will confess I fail myself a lot. Over the last few years, the number has ofcourse come down and am still learning. But the fact that it needs to be spoken about, doesn't take away anything from the seriousness of this issue.
I grew up in a huge, spacious house where we all had rooms to ourselves with attached bathrooms et al. I was (am!) so used to this kind of living that for years after I had left that house, I struggled to adjust in cramped up houses. I still do. I faintly remember an ex colleague who could never understand how we never got along together despite living in such a huge house. Well, he lived in a cramped up house of 2 BHK shared between 12 adults and believed that a spacious house would solve all the problems existent in their house. That is exactly how privilege feels like.
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When you don't have something in life, you tend to believe automatically that its presence will solve every thing for you. That is the major problem I faced when I moved cities. This was immediately after my diagnosis of Hashimoto and I was still struggling with the changes it brought along. I for one, have never been the sort to reach out for various reasons. However, I tried to change it then and consciously tried reaching out to people for help.
Like for one, I needed help with my meals and day-to-day chores as due to my health it was difficult to manage it all alone. I happened to speak about it to a friend who was also based in the same city for decades now, hoping to find a solution. The next thing I know is, a completely random friend from different continent altogether messages me. Stating how she came to know about my need for help and how it reeked of privilege. Cooking isn't that difficult for your own self and how I need to learn it all as a basic survival skill more than anything else. I listened to her patiently before replying just this, "I can cook 15 different cuisines and manage to whip up a storm in a short while. The point is my health doesn't allow me this at the moment." She fumbled briefly before hanging up abruptly.
People who are abled and do not suffer from any ailment, are unable to understand the challenges of people suffering from chronic ailments. I say this from my own experience and do not intend to belittle anyone. It is just that they cannot fathom sufferings simply because they have not seen it. Often we hear people say how it is all in our minds or how it isn't as bad as we think it is. The issue here is priority and of course privilege. I always apply the Maslow's theory of Hierarchy of Needs here. They were perhaps privileged in one aspect, that is what is making them think like this. I don't think it would be wrong to put it this way - We simply tend to take things for granted, that's it.
Leaving this beautiful quote here to end this thought piece:
“Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege. I want to live in a world where all women have access to education, and all women can earn PhD’s, if they so desire. Privilege does not have to be negative, but we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.” ― Bell Hooks