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Privilege: A Burden of Guilt

2 Jun

Privilege: A Burden of Guilt


She was searching online for a quote on hunger by Sheikh Farid when her stomach growled and head spun ah! DG forgot to eat lunch. While reheating lunch her sight strayed to the makeshift pantry teeming with all kinds of lentils, beans, spices, grains etc. Late March, city mayor announced suspension of public transit in 72 hours to limit movement of people to combat spread of Coronavirus. Next afternoon, with her shopping bags and dolly riding two buses she went grocery shopping (due to binocular vision issues she doesn’t drive).

She rushed through almost empty aisles scrounging whatever she could, including frozen vegetables and fruits. At the cash-register she swept credit card to pay this unplanned expense. On dolly she stacked neatly packed three grocery bags; called a cab and rode home. Off the cab she took stock of her belongings then her two knee braces adjusted her back brace to get ready for four trips up two flights of stairs to her abode. Once everything was inside she stored everything in a makeshift pantry. Then she took a breather, counted her blessing and marveled her body and strength wow, so many privileges.

This particular shopping trip left DG emotionally drained. At the till she thought of people who are on budget and didn’t have a credit card for an emergency. In the cab she wondered about those who had to lug their purchases in the buses; many who could buy and bring stuff home but couldn’t lift it or climb the stairs with it and those living in rooming houses or shared rooms with no room to store it. What about the homeless? Living in a developed country doesn’t mean it has conquered the demons of inequality and inequity. They remain obscure within our range of vision and stare us in the eye only in dire times unmasking in the forms of disability, aging, poverty, working poor, homelessness, racism, abuse and oppression and so on; reminding us food, shelter and health are not human rights but privilege of few.

By evening this burden of privilege morphed into guilt when she saw a news report from India where a new mother with a week old baby was crying for she hadn’t eaten enough to nurse her new born yet another man competed with dogs to lap spilled milk. With empty stomachs what chance do they stand to combat any infection? If gluttony is a sin then hunger is the worst curse. Baba Farid said, ਫਰੀਦਾ ਮੌਤੋਂ ਭੁੱਖ ਬੁਰੀ, ਰਾਤੀਂ ਸੁੱਤਾ ਖਾਇਕੇ ਸੁਬ੍ਹਾ ਨੂੰ ਫੇਰ ਖੜੀ. O Farid, hunger is worse than death you eat and sleep through night in the morning it again awaits you.

It is 2020 and we are still grappling with food security issues. Committing her tithe to a soup kitchen does not absolve DG of her guilt of privilege for her voice against global hunger is still feeble she needs to scream louder and with those who believe food is a right not a privilege. The governments should be responsible and held accountable to provide basic rights to all citizens. Those of us not hungry need to speak up for the hungry and the poor.

To test your privilege just replace the word race, color, caste/class, gender and religion with the majority community in your community/nation.

Caste Privilege


This post was penned on April 13, 2020 but DG did not have the courage to post it because the guilt was so overpowering.

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