The recipe to success has always been a simple one: work hard, work smart, and you will succeed. You will become a self-made person, an example of success, all thanks to your hard work. However, this is almost never the case. We are born with a set of privileges others don’t enjoy, and we need to learn to acknowledge this.
Kenyan poet, playwright, and activist Shailja Patel posted the following tweet:
“We all have the same 24 hours.
Use public transport? Your 24 hours are not the same as those of private jet owners.
Do your own cooking, cleaning, child~raising? Your 24 hours are not the same as those of someone with a full~time domestic staff.
Stop this nonsense.”
In turn, before you choose to boast about your successes, you should check your privileges. For instance, if you are reading this right now you are privileged to own a device to read this on, you are privileged to have an internet connection, you are privileged to have had an education that taught you how to read and write. More than 780 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate and only half of the human population has access to the internet.
When you become a successful person, remember the conditions that brought you there. Remember the time and effort you save by hiring others to do work for you. Consider where you would be without your education, without an adequate upbringing, in a safe place, with access to everything you need.
Now, think about others, others who don’t have the same privilege. Is it right to call them lazy? Is it right to say that they aren’t successful because they didn’t work hard enough, when they probably work harder and longer than any human should, just so they could feed their families? Think about access: access to education, access to a safe and healthy environment, access to culture.
Think about why the poor get poorer and the rich get richer before you take what is given to you for granted.
What we are given in life is not a factor outside of our success, and it is time to understand the weight our privilege and the weight our access have when it comes to where we go in life.
It is time for us to check our privilege.
“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
My name is Sadeen Qardan. I am from the capital city in Jordan; Amman. I am a second year student in Global Governance hoping to pursue a career in either social justice or humanitarian aid. I am strongly driven by my passion to do things the ethical way, to be true to my goals, and to implement change where change is needed.