Chances are that if you are sitting around on your laptop or scrolling through your smart phone with an internet connection, you are privileged. Though I can hear the protests of utter denial and claims of the hardships faced to acquire said facilities, it is an absolute and irrevocable truth that we are still privileged. It only matters to what extent you are willing to acknowledge this.
The other day, something very primal moved my very soul, such that it lit up a fire in my chest that wanted to burn down the norms of tradition; those norms that were not ‘norms’, not according to my understanding of the word anyway.
I was on my way back after conducting a creative writing course at a summer camp being held in the lesser affluent part of the city. I was feeling quite proud about the good I was returning to my society. As the van turned a corner, there in front of me I saw a cart, and on it a mountain of random objects. The height of this impossible load prevented me from seeing the animal that must have been pulling it along. I felt slightly distraught at the thought of a poor animal pulling this cart on one side of the busy road under the intense heat of the glaring noon sun, for it was decidedly in its full glory that day and under threat of being hit by the crazy traffic.
My curiosity prevented me from looking away, and as the van moved past, the realization that it was no animal pulling this cart penetrated the depths of my already bleeding heart, shattering it into a million pieces, just like a bullet would a window pane; for it was human being. I was not sure there for a minute or two, if I could bear it, the utter depravity of humanity. My depravity. How could I sit so comfortably shaded from the sun, with my iphone in my hand, browsing the net to while the time away, cash strewn about my purse carelessly without a second thought thinking about taking a shower with high end beauty products and then going out to shop for the latest Eid Collection that had launched just the day before, maybe get a hair cut? How could there be such a vast difference between two people, each one composed of the same raw material, each one fundamentally the same?
I bow my head in respect for that young man…and what is this other feeling? Envy…. yes envy. This young man, maybe in his early twenties, was drenched in sweat and yet he battled on, one foot ahead of the other, ever resilient that he would be compensated (however a paltry amount). He battled on. He did not take the easy way out, thieving or getting lost into the dark abyss of addiction as is so common an affliction these days. No sir, not this young man. I envy him his goodness, I envy him the simplicity of his life. I do not of course, envy him his destitution, and so I ask with great care, when will we at least acknowledge our good fortune?
And yet there they still are, the protests that we deserve all we have, that there is no accountabilty. No sir we aren’t accountable at all. But then how does that make any sense? Though I see a tween the same age as my son driving a rickshaw, and behind him his passengers- two women and a young girl so obviously having down’s syndrome, though I see a bent old lady, not a day less than ninety, begging on the streets, though I see a little girl scurrying by with the hem of her filthy dress torn away, she herself in danger of tripping over it, I still hear protests.
Dear parents, teach your children the importance of realizing the bounties and blessings that are in your lives. It could be that you have your own baggage to contend with, but there is always, always, always someone worse off, much worse off. Teach to use their good fortune for the uplift and advantage of the misfortuned. If each one us can do at least this much, imagine the future our next generation could have. What a legacy to leave behind, what a footprint to implant in the sands of time!