I was born into privilege. No, I don’t mean the kind of privilege of living with butlers, maids, fancy cars and mansions. I was born into privilege because my family was able to move to the United States when I was a 5-year-old child, and because of that move I was given the privilege of a life that I would not have had in India.
When our family gets together there is always a story or two told of our childhood in India. When my older brothers talk about our childhood home in Kerala with the lush green plam trees and the rice paddies, their stories seem like make-believe. The smells of the open markets filled with fishmongers and the sounds of the honking cars and buses. In our minds, we often go back to the reality of our dirt-floor home without running water or electricity. Kerosene lamps lit the way down the rocky hill to our home at night after prayer meetings and church services The place where we learned to catch minnows in the creek with our threadbare towels or the well where our mummy drew water for the day.
Strange to remember that life and realize that God allowed it to be the place where I spent my early developmental years. It is also an eye-opening experience to think, “there but for the Grace of God, go I.” What a statement when I think of where I am today and where I could have been, had it not been for God’s great provision in my family’s life. When I think of poverty or what its effects are, it has a personal look and feel because I’ve experienced it as the fabric of my life. My family did not have much, but what we did have were parents who believed in God and sacrificed for a better future for us. I know that today I am at Compassion International as an advocate for children because God orchestrated my childhood to be a starting place for me to recognize need and to empathize with children who do not have the same privilege I was born into.
I was born into privilege, and if you are reading this on your desktop at work or a personal computer at home, then more than likely you were born into privilege also. No, not the “Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous” kind of privilege, but the kind of privilege that we take for granted because we don’t think twice when we turn the knob on a faucet for water or flip a switch for light. Our children are privileged with the requirement and opportunity for an education. We lay claim to the kind of privilege that allows us to walk into clean supermarkets to purchase beautifully packaged foods. We Americans, as a whole, own approximately 40 percent of the world’s wealth but we make up only 2.5 percent of the world’s population. We, my friends are privileged…and with this privilege comes…yes, you’ve guessed it, responsibility. So, as you are looking at these words of mine I have a closing thought. What will you and I do with the responsibility of the privilege we were born into?