The question of privilege
I’ve always believed in merit, the idea that effort alone is the righteous route to achievement. The assertion has a nice ring to it, but in our imperfect world, is the right to effort itself non-discriminatory?
All my endeavors have been driven by confidence: the belief that everything is attainable with relentless perseverance. But, would I’ve been as confident if I’d been made to sit distant in feasts like so many are? Or were the streets selectively unsafe for me after the sun went down? Or if couldn’t afford to join friends for parties?
The questions around privilege are tricky. They’ve caused policy changes, social resentments, and violent clashes, and yet remain unanswered. And a lot of it has to do with the challenges in the measure of privilege.
It is easier to quantify the difference between cutoff scores for the reserved and unreserved classes, and almost impossible to account for the anguish of being termed a ‘lower’ for two decades. In the context of engineering colleges, it is easy to put a number to selections in female-only internship programs, and nearly impossible to enumerate the ones that underperformed in tests due to social subversion and traumas.
It takes nothing to smirk off questions on one’s privilege as charades, and it takes character to come to terms with reality.
I claim no sainthood; I’ve used my fair share of slurs. And regardless of what I say, write, or do, I’ll continue to enjoy the fruits of the accident of birth. Yet, I do find it essential to acknowledge the existence of challenges that I do not face. To validate the struggles of the less privileged as legitimate. And to admit that some might work just as hard as me for far lesser rewards.
Moral reasons aside, it is also socially prudent to admit the fallacies of history. Shadowing privilege is like denying prosthetics to someone without legs for the sake of perceived ‘equality’. It is also the time-tested way to incite civil war. Even if it does not, there’s been no time ever when the world benefited from inequality. Mere acknowledgment goes a long way in mending stuff.
Privilege invites peril by denying its existence.
My own thoughts are yet unstructured. It’s more complicated than it appears at the surface. But it is important to put up questions, so those willing to think have some food for thought.
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