Don’t Take Your Privilege For Granted

Written by Jessica Golich

The inestimable insight and life knowledge that I have cumulatively earned has led me to place further emphasis on the value of balancing human connection and inner reflection. I no longer allow trivial facets of life that were once subconsciously a priority hold me captive; I am an active participant that endures and observes myself within my ignorance as I internally navigate through the wilderness. I am discovering renewed energy in the pain my heart has harbored, as it influences me to choose to look deeper within myself and within the ingenious lunacy interwoven into my brain circuitry.

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Saturday evening, as I was out for a solitary evening stroll through the lush and affluent Brooklyn streets, I paused to mindfully observe what I witnessed from afar that lit a fire within my heart and packed a punch showcasing the reality of a family left alone on the economic battlefront. Now that my heart was activated, I acknowledged that my head must be applied. I moved, slowly, toward the scene of the crime and reflected upon feelings I previously encountered in life within days that turned to nights back when the streets were as cold as ice and I skated in circles attempting to overcome existential hurdles. I perceive that the boundaries of taking a bite out of food scraps freshly picked out of an unsanitary and filthy dumpster blur when you and your children haven’t eaten or slept for days and survival instincts take precedence and lead you into a steadfast haze. I was witnessing a mother climbing into local businesses’ dumpsters and rummaging through bags of trash for scraps of food to feed her children who were standing within arms length carrying bags of empty bottles to be turned in for cash while longingly anticipating a hot plate. I approached the courageous woman and mother, who was covered in debris from head to toe, and looked her dead in the eye and asked her if she was seeking dinner for her and her children and she immediately murmured under her breath a resoundingly shameful, “Yes.” I am well aware of the difference between enabling and giving. I am well aware that there are individuals on the streets milking the system, rehearsing their pitiful lines and running vulnerable souls for what they’re worth. But, this was first-hand desperation. This human being did not play the victim and immediately and vulnerably vocalized that she did not have a green card, food supply was tough to come by and this was only manner in which she was currently able to bring in a trickle of income. Malnutrition and poverty have been widespread concerns over time, but I perceive that moments akin to this one in which you look a starving child in the eyes and feel their “I have my back to the wall” cries is when you candidly realize and earnestly sympathise. As the human being and I continued to connect, and I state firmly that by no means am I sharing for a slight ounce of praise, I forthrightly insinuated that I was interested in providing groceries for the family to take home. The human being stated that the family had too many bags of food scraps to carry home on this “shift” and that she appreciated my gesture to assist. After conversation began to effortlessly flow, I walked with my new friend and took the human being and her children to the nearest food truck and enthusiastically stated, “Eat your heart out.” The family and I sat down and chowed on a nearby stump and the children and I laughed up a storm as I shared some of my ridiculous PG-13 life stories. In the back of my mind, I was musing upon the psychological and physical scars that these children have already encountered and will have to deal with the aftermath for many years to come. I knew that this family was going to go back to the same ol’ nightly routine and regime.

I am so privileged. You are so privileged. If you are reading this, there is a likely chance that you live above the poverty line. At times, the most direct and substantial route to appreciation is through the darkness. This experience served as a reminder of the plethora of seemingly small aspects of my life that I take for granted. And, above all, it reminded me of the importance of universally giving back.