Underprivileged is a special class of people clipped of vocal cords and wings.

January 1st, 2016

“I think the greatest illusion we have is that denial protects us. It’s actually the biggest distortion and lie. In fact, staying asleep is what’s killing us.”— Eve Ensler

The educated often present their lives similar to curated Instagram accounts. Meticulously crafted images and stories chronicle the perfect life to evoke a world brimming with goodness and abundance. Once you get behind the wheels of a vehicle called education and status, you pilot through life triumphant of belonging to this special-sanitized class. On this lifelong ride, you conjure images of suffering and perpetrators and project them on those forced to the other side—the poor, the illiterate, the simple, the trusting, the non-English speaking, the male gender of the poor, a person of colour, etc.

This reservation, dumping the shiploads of toxicity on the other land, is the entitlement of those from the special land. It is no different from first-world countries dumping hazardous waste in third-world countries or developing countries. Unfortunately, in spite of your education, you fail to see how toxic waste from one part of the world harms all areas of the world, or for that matter how those who terrorize, in multitude ways, are all someone’s family, friend, neighbor, or/ and colleague. When terror erupts, you fashionably boast: “I knew someone’s someone who was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That murderer was our neighbor; we had this feeling that something was off. If only she had trusted and confided in me, I would have saved her life. We are “lucky”, our daughter fell sick the day we were to board the doomed flight. Thank god, I visited Bali before the tsunami, I had the most amazing time!”

The educated circus has come to town, the visuals are stunning, but the souls are numb. There is nothing to laugh about, and there is no emotional freedom. With this convenient numbness, you can procure a degree, provide counseling, treat the physical scars, fashionably fundraise, present empathetic sounding lectures, film documentaries, and heap pity (which is self-pacification, not the preservation of humanity) on others’ abuses. It is encouraged so long as you maintain you are a champion from the special side. Within the fortress of the special-sanitized class, you cry in silence, self-inflict, brush beneath the heirloom carpet, medicate on drugs, develop self-loathing addictions, go into hiding, while at all times obey what you are programmed to—MIND THE GAP AND MAINTAIN THE DISTANCE.

This luxury brand, of denial, deception, and defeat, gives you permission to boast of stress or genetics related diseases, the coolest and expensive surgeries, and the imported pharmaceutical drugs. After all, they are linked to the physical body. When it comes to matters of the mind denial bolts to drape the shame. Your weakness convinces you that issues of shame—child sexual abuse, domestic violence, marginalization, mental illness, gender-based violence, addictions, etc.—are a distant problem. The fact is they are all here; you are part of it. But the code demands silence and dictates you cover up this alarmingly, incestuous system.

When one attempts to express a dangerous situation or share a piece of critical information that could protect and save lives, you beat them down. Thanks to an outwardly privileged life you throw in those limited edition plush blankets—of justification, excuses, and denials. In instances where your presence of mind could have saved human lives you push them to despair, perhaps death or mass fatality (it could very well end up being your child at this end). You simplify it further: “Everybody has these problems.” Interestingly, you would not toss blanket statements like: “Everybody is a supermodel. Everybody loves high-altitude mountaineering. Everybody is fluent in 8 languages.”

Your apparent blanket statements are announcements of your fundamental weakness of character and cowardice. They are revelations of your willing participation to grow this colony of minds infested with denial and deception. These blankets of denial—woven by unparalleled, centuries-old techniques—are meticulously restored and passed down through generations. They are not only collector’s pieces, but they are also as comforting as the finest pashmina. Why would you want to unfurl them? If at all a severe case in the special class forces its way to the surface, you can treat it like an ephemeral distraction. In reality, the glossy lids of these gutters—raging with poisonous gases—are barely holding on by rusty bolts. If they blow up, the floodgates will reveal a picture similar to the Bhopal gas disaster [India, December 1984].

By practicing mind the gap, maintain the distance, you are declaring you are of a superior class, a higher caste, a kindlier sex, and a favoured race. Maintaining the distance ultimately means that you do not have to expend your brain, expand the heart, and be called to action. It also establishes the symbiosis between you, the unchallenged guardians of shame and crime and vehement parasites who destroy.

Underprivileged is not a social class. In my opinion, the actual underprivileged—emotional poverty struck and human rights deprived—is a special class of people clipped of vocal cords and wings, who exist in charming cages. So much for stepping on the pedal of their cars, these dead birds will never know how to sing.

Suffering and death, similar to love and life are universal concepts. To continuously make it look like a problem from the other side is not only betraying to one’s life, it is betraying to life itself. Emotional impotency leads to the paralysis of the mind and heart, which might make you feel falsely empowered, but in reality, you are terrified. By existing in safety and with weakness, your amygdala generates increasing fear, which in turn drives away courage required to honour life.

If you don’t claim you voice, story, and life, authentic power will elude you; you will be weighed down and shackled to silence.

And a man denied of intellectual realization is a dead man.

It is only by practicing courage and compassion that you can manifest human dignity and well-being. I encourage you, especially the younger generation, to challenge convention, ally intelligence to courage and channelize it with purpose. Abuse and suffering have no gender, age, class, race, religion, or colour—similar to physical suffering that range from annoying ant bites to long-suffering diabetes and life-threatening ischemic heart disease, abuses range from humiliating insults to heinous sexual assaults, and premeditated savagery.

You can claim proximity (to feel falsely important) to people who have been killed, murdered, and destroyed. But wouldn’t you rather your life be worthy of giving life? A world free of violence for our children doesn’t come with denial. It is by opening the doors to emotional freedom that you can address the dangerous caverns and work towards eliminating this MAKE BELIEVE GAP. It is in acknowledging the ugliness that you can banish the illusion, one that is awash with great injustice and greater suffering. We have to tear down pretentious psychological barriers, not only for abused children and adults to be free of carrying the burden of shame, but also to affect the lives of future generations.

Unprecedented change does not come from people, from the special side, meditating on picturesque hilltops, practicing bastardized yoga on sparkling beaches, or praying to god (convenient escapism). It comes from the lives of those devoid of image, fear, and denial; it comes from sacrifice and will. On December 22, 2015, the Juvenile Justice Bill, in India, was amended. The driving force behind this change are Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh [Parents of Nirbhaya] who in spite of losing their daughter to barbaric slaughter remain undeterred in courage and commitment to the well-being of YOUR CHILDREN.

Be grateful. Be purposeful. Be doers.