I got up this morning from a cozy King sized bed, dragged myself to the kitchen, and put some hot tea on the boil.
And as I sat down to plan my week, it made me realize something: This right here is a privilege.
I never used to use the word “privilege.” I related the term to multi-millionaires and billionaires who had loads and loads of resources.
But lately, despite being a person of color, I cannot unsee my privilege.
In India (I moved to the US 6 years back), parts of my life were comparatively “inconvenient.”
As a student, I had traveled in non-air-conditioned trains (during peak summers when temperatures reached above 110F) for 52 hours to reach my hometown.
I had traveled in cramped-up buses to reach my workplace.
I had walked the streets of New Delhi with a pepper spray glued to my hand with the fear of getting kidnapped/raped.
I applied for competitive job positions where 2–5 lakh (half a million) people fought for 1–2 open positions.
And mind you, this still wasn’t even 0.00000001% close to poverty or life of under-privilege. Most students and new job seekers led this kind of life. I was no different.
I was born in an upper-middle-class family with enough comforts, food, and plenty of other conveniences.
What I saw and observed:
But I have also seen real poverty. I haven’t experienced it but have seen it.
When I worked in New Delhi, everyday I passed by many slums. In these slums, you could find unbathed, shabbily dressed kids running around their make-shift homes. It was easy to understand that education or a comfortable life wasn’t their priority. They were just trying to survive.
I even interacted with a few of these wonderful kids. They were no different than a privileged kid. They wanted to play, eat chocolates, have fun, loved toys, and didn’t want to get beaten up/scolded by their parents.
But, they valued the resources much more than any privileged kid.
Such slums are so common in some cities that we don’t even consider it “abnormal”.
Normalization of Poverty:
Millions of people in India and other developing countries live this reality every single day.
The simple things we take for granted is a luxury for them:
1. Clean clothes
2. Clean water
3. Safe environment with no risk of getting kidnapped or raped
4. Any food (healthy or otherwise)
7. Medical facilities
And just like the commonality of slums in India, we have normalized global poverty. Those Facebook ads that talk about child hunger, wars, water scarcity, forced labor, etc., don’t really affect us anymore. We have become “used to” them.
While the rampant poverty mainly sheds the light of responsibility on the top rich 1%, it also applies to us. The ones who have the conveniences and privilege to stay inside Air-conditioned rooms and type an article about Poverty at 9 in the morning.
We need to talk:
We have many essential inequality issues coming to light right now. And we need to add poverty to the list. Not because we are super humble, highly-moral, highly-ethical people, but because the way we are leading our lives right now is wrong at many many levels.
The poorer communities who are devoid of technological privilege do not have an iPhone (or any phone) to shoot their YouTube or Tik-Tok videos about their one meal a day “forced diet,” unclean water, or how they cannot even afford their basic sanitary needs.
They do not have the privilege or the power to speak up about corruption and destruction to their homes (due to climate change/industrial waste), which pushes them to further poverty.
It’s up to all of us. It isn’t a savior complex. It’s our responsibility since we are part of a defective system.
But what can we do? One cannot just leave their lives behind to solve the world’s problems, right?
Right. You don’t have to. There are people already doing that.
You can do the following:
- Be the voice for trusted non-profit organizations that are working at ground level to solve problems.
- Generously donate funds to trusted non-profit organizations that are working towards the betterment of communities.
- Introspect about your habits or life decisions that are affecting local communities in developing countries.
- Consciously invest in stocks. Don’t just go for the companies that are “making profits”. Preferably choose green investments.
- Stop buying Fast fashion (I can include this in literally every article).
- Consume limited resources.
- Support companies that are enriching the lives of local communities while keeping their air, water, and earth clean & safe.
- Question Inequality every single day!
- Recognize your Privilege.
Please feel free to share any additional points that can be added to the list.
Let’s start talking about Poverty.
Let’s be better.
Check out my YouTube channel for inspiring videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBfUxVSxC0koxGSkwzVRYzQ