"How Privileged Are You?"

By Cathy H - 10:37 PM

After coming across a Buzzfeed video on a privilege quiz, I took it myself and found out, unsurprisingly me that I got a pretty high score. Despite my friends coming from all kinds of socio-economic backgrounds, I have been told an overwhelmingly number of times that I was privileged. This was always an uncomfortable term for me because it implied not working for anything, of being spoiled and having things handed on a silver platter. While  I did get handed many things in life, I never considered myself being privileged until I started travelling to third world countries, relating my friend's experiences and putting together everything I've known to this point. 

When one grows up in a bubble of what they are used to, it is unfathomable to them that someone else could not even think of life at their level because due to social inequality, people are shaped by different circumstances and environments. Nothing is so simple as the stereotypes I've heard growing up, such as assuming those working low income jobs just didn't bother getting an education. Or worse yet, when my friends blatantly wonder why an new immigrant coming to Canada under a temporary foreign worker visa cannot just upgrade to a higher paying job.  Despite our belief in meritocracy that people are able to realize the American dream by their sheer willpower, it rarely happens for those in cyclic poverty and disadvantaged positions in society.  For example, I was talking with a friend on the topic of privilege today because we took the same quiz, and she stated that she always assumed not taking family vacations was the "norm". It shocked me at the same time because it was the norm in my life, in fact I was always jealous at others for taking better vacations than me.  I guess taking this quiz of uncomfortable because I never realized my quality of life was considered to be privileged. People are always comparing to the upper status quo above them, but sometimes what they don't realize is the massive advantage they already have in society. 

To some third world country inhabitants, they cannot even tick ANY of these off.  That really puts things into perspective, because for as long as I can remember, the shocking gap of inequality in this world was always an incomprehensible thing for me. Every human being is giving one life, but birthright lottery puts us into different corners of the world, some have to endure a lifetime of inscrutable suffering while a meal someone eats in the first world is the yearly income of a person in bonded slavery.  It makes the world seem like unhinged chaos, the paradoxes between insufferable survival and greed. Also, one thing I realized is that success is not linear. Meritocracy is nonexistent essentially because everyone is raised at different levels from birth. Someone born at a level 5 could realize level 10 by the end of their lives, compared to someone born at level 1 who could only achieve level 5 at most. There are honestly so many factors that determine success, but still the poor get poorer and the rich get more rich. I think those with privilege should acknowledge it fully and realize it to put life in perspective, and most importantly humble themselves. 

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