We live in a world where thankfulness is a sport of comparison and showing gratitude for our blessings often requires that we first place them against a contrasting background of someone else’s less-fortunate circumstance to see the extent of what has been done for us.
In this twisted world, privilege (used here as an umbrella term for any form of socially relevant advantage) is a set of blinders limiting our range of vision and the capacity of our perspectives to accommodate the breadth of what living means as well as the temporary nature of material things.
If we really knew just how irreversibly transient everything is, we would be less fixated on protecting our seemingly precious yet insignificant advantages, instead expending energy on turning them into platforms to accommodate as many people as they can so that we may profit together.
That fixation, the real issue here, stems from lack, the threat of lack or the unconscious fear that comes with the knowledge that lack is a living nightmare we can almost reach out and touch.
Not having is scary, a modern-day monster made from unrealised potential, unkept promises, hunger and the vicious cycle of hustling. It haunts our every step, nagging and whispering prophecies of coming discomfort that drive us to continuously seek ways to avoid an undesirable future. It drives us to never define ‘enough’ in personal terms and sets us on a dangerous path marked by an insatiable appetite – the neverending quest for a ‘more’ which when achieved is compared to another ‘more’ and another and another and we keep going till we are erased, naturally.
Somewhere along this treacherous journey to a meaningless end, we wear the blinders, we stop seeing ourselves for who we really are and our perception of life and the people we live it with becomes tainted. This is the blindside of privilege, the filtering out of what matters beyond personal gain, the preservation of comforts and the unnegotiable retention of power.
But assets disappear without warning. Trends go out of style, stock markets crash and dust settles on even the shiniest things. Nothing is guaranteed. Every advantage is only as good as it lasts, then it is gone and you’re holding on to nothing.
We clutch too much, cling too tightly to things that, though present, are simply travelling toward an inevitable expiration. Everything has an expiry date, and everyone. Such is the futility of acting like forever is real.
Maybe now, one by one or as small collectives, we will stand under the light of consciousness, recognise our trapped selves and rebel against the chains of being better than the next person. We just are not better and we cannot be. Humanity should never be defined by having more or having less, only by the presence of a soul – the capacity for empathy.
Privilege means nothing more than we want it to. These measures of success are all man-made yardsticks for man-made glory, not grounds for comparison-fueled thanksgiving or a lifting of shoulders made from flesh and bone just like the next set of shoulders, however unequally clothed they are.
So let us take the advantage and make it a common benefit. Let the comforts be communal. Tear down the walls or knock down sections however you can. Let our gratitude be in sharing. After all, the end comes to everyone. Let it find you with empty hands and a full heart.