Friday, October 2, 2015


PRIVILEGE, that ubiquitous word. It is a word used plentifully these days. In life to have food, clothing , shelter itself seems miraculous , given the many who struggle to make two ends meet. Privilege, in terms of caste, colour race, sexual choices . Though there is a perceptible change in these sphere plenty of the older associations still persist and are perpetuated imperceptibly. Sometimes one is unconscious of ignoble impulses of superiority simply because they are overlain by an assumption of equality.Or elsewhere one's self mythologizing is seamlessly coalesced to the way one presents and apprehends identity. In such a situation the performance becomes the reality.
The word privilege scares me. I have had my own share of misfortunes, perhaps more so than some yet there are many who suffer from exiguities in their daily lives , entailing privations and deprivations i can circumvent by virtue of my contingent situation in life . To be candid, the proportion of the salutary things in my life far outweigh the discomfiting. Sometimes it seems churlish to evince fractiousness, querulousness in the face of many larger injustices. Yet i am impelled sometimes to indulge my fit of pique if only to alleviate the guilt experiencing such pique induces.
Privilege makes me guilty. It prompts self censoring. It makes me neurotic and fearful of committing some unconscionable solecism, however inadvertently. It induces self consciousness and watchfulness to words, gestures , body language. I preempt the conferring of offfense even before i express myself. I have to be mindful of condescension, of patronizing. I have to demonstrate humility and the provisional nature of my empathy, despite its authenticity. Above all i have to consciously eschew promulgating prejudices, barbs , objurgations of which i might be unaware, which i might assume to be incontrovertible simply because i have absorbed them.
Somewhere i cherish this self censoring which, when protracted, becomes a way of being, a modification of consciousness. It makes me thoughtful in uttering platitudes knowing how incompensatory they are. If guilt renders inadequacy and self loathing then it also augments the fibres of empathy that entwine all of us. Awareness of privilege is a mixed blessing. Ceaseless self excoriation can become an indulgence, manifesting sometimes in deferential, obsequious insincerities. But elsewhere it can invigorate, inculcate humility, translate into purposive, fruitful action. Privilege operates in many spheres and in some ways all of us are unprivileged in some aspect. But one has the accoutrements of survival and coexistence. And that, to start with, is sufficient .

1 comment:

  1. "If guilt renders inadequacy and self loathing then it also augments the fibres of empathy that entwine all of us." After reading these words, Bharat, it made me wonder if empathy isn't a negative rather than a positive? But does that actually matter? If we are constantly fighting this sense of privilege then don't our actions, however noble they may be, issue from a negative? As I said it may not matter, but it made me wonder.