A Softer World

“”Little Children on a Bicycle”, by Ernest Zacharevic (taken during my first visit to Penang, Malaysia in 2013)

I’m lucky.

Before I begin to even delve into the many things that I feel lucky to have (which is not the intention of this post), I understand that it sounds as if I’m smug about the privilege that I have.

Of course, allow me to defend myself, and say that I mean it with utter humility, the way I just said how lucky I am.

However, I know full well that there is always that other layer of meaning, that unsaid message that is just underneath the statement: that there is an undeniable confluence of privilege that I have received, which is not readily available to the rest.

Perhaps even the fact that I pass it off as luck (or as how religious people say it, blessings) only serves to mystify the phenomena of advantages, as if a karmic force is efficiently at work in this universe.

I don’t mean to do that. While I believe in the value of hard work and sheer determination, I recognize that there are people who, regardless of their talents and grit, will never have what I have, merely because the system is rigged against their favor.

(To digress, I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”, as a relevant book to this discussion.)

Yesterday, at the panel discussion of Ur_Tadhana’s season finale viewing party, I was reminded again of how there’s so much unfairness and inequality in the world. We are constantly being assessed by everyone around us according to what they deem is correct or proper or superior, and often times these expectations we fail to live up to stop us from accessing a lot of opportunities that could otherwise empower us.

Fat. Asian. Black. Latino. Gay. Effeminate. Ugly. Poor. Disabled.

So many labels. So many stereotypes. So many walls.

It’s very, very depressing.

And you know what’s even more depressing is that, yes, I admit I am sometimes complicit with these things, either by sin of omission or commission.

Because when you’re lucky, it’s easy to look the other way, and say, nope, that’s not my business.

So what do I really want to say?

I think I cannot overstate the value of empathy.

When we try to live the realities outside our sphere of privilege, we get to see that there are problems that can be solved, and there are solutions that will benefit a greater good.

We can step out of our small circles to bring more people in, and make the circle bigger for all.
For me, a goal very close to my heart would be seeing my LGBT brothers and sisters experience less discrimination, and enjoy the many things that I am enjoying right now, just because I happened to be at the right place and at the right time.

I don’t want to sound messianic about this, but I’d like to think that we can do things that make things better, and to lift each other up.

Because wouldn’t it be nice to make other people feel luckier too?

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