Before I begin babbling my thoughts, on thoughts, on this virtual paper, I want to clarify that these are my personal opinions—opinions shaped from the experiences I have had, the decent privilege I hold, and my outlook on things. They very well might not mean anything more than mere meaningless maundering to you. But to me, they form the shades of the lenses I see the world from. Now, you might think to yourself if this disclaimer was necessary at all. Aren’t all our words and thoughts that way? Our version of things? The reason for this disclaimer is that although acknowledgement of the frivolity of a piece does not increase its credibility, I feel that self-awareness of the authors of self-help books and people writing rants from an all self-righteous perspective should at least be appreciated. This does not fall in either of the categories, but I would put it in the latter if I had to.
My first opinion, that I wish to share, might come across as ironical enough for you to shake your head in disbelief that you just wasted your time reading the first paragraph. It might make you shut the tab instantly. However, I shall take the risk and go on. I believe that an opinion formed from a place of privilege is extremely dangerous—to your circle, to your people, to your society, to your nation, to the wide world and, to you. Because more often than not, it wraps you in a comfortable bubble so that you may have a good night’s sleep while the world burns outside your window. Your privilege has served you well enough to be mindful of the plight of the workers toiling in dim factories day and night for a meagre wage, but at the same time, it shuts that information out to you the moment you have to shop from a high-brand label that works on systematic exploitation.
But the privilege does not always have to be monetary or social. It can take the form of the rose-colored glasses you refuse to take off. Or, if not that, your isolation from the cause that you pretend to stand for. It could be environmentalism, feminism, or racial equality, to name a few of the numerous causes one can hope to solve in this not-so-ideal world.
What I mean is that you might not care about wildfires so much if the forests in your country are not prone to them; you might not care so much for environmental accountability if your industry is in question; you might shut your ears to misogynistic jokes if they are made by someone in your friend circle; you might fail to see the pattern in most of the domestic workers and cleaners being from a lower caste when you jump in on discussions about how reservations are useless in today’s times. You get the idea. The reason that you might cling to your blanket of opinions is that letting go is difficult. It requires that extra effort to change your lifestyle—hold the people around you slightly more accountable and be a little more accountable yourself.
But to me, not stepping out of your fort is alarmingly dangerous because you might sit idle when you still have the time to change things. Turning a blind eye towards systematic oppression and exploitation is indirectly fueling this system. Just because it doesn’t affect us directly, we might lose sight of the very real consequences that such a system has on people. We might forget that the flames we are fanning indirectly might reach us one day.
In all honesty, I don’t know if it is the privilege that fuels our shallow problematic opinions or the opinions that we have which make it about impossible for us to look outside our bubble and really empathise. Perhaps, like various other things, this runs in vicious cycles too. And as much as I make privilege sound like a burden one is cursed to live with up until death, it does not have to be that way.
You can either go back to not caring or push for little changes—changes that might not be entirely unproblematic but better than before, at least. Most of us tend to not do something even after realizing our problematic patterns because we truly believe that our efforts might be futile. And so, instead of creating a world of people who takes small steps towards the causes they believe in and are appreciative of others who do the same, we end up posting a relevant story and call it a day—in the hope that this carefully curated persona we project of ourselves comes off as caring and sensitive enough to relieve the burden that comes with our privilege.
This post was written by Khushi, IInd year