because writing is clarifying

because writing is clarifying

Subbu Allamaraju’s Journal

2020 — A Year of Privilege

2020 was a weird year. Many things were different twelve months ago. At first, there was the pandemic. Before we even realized what the pandemic meant and the work-life changes that were yet to come, the travel industry (I work for a travel company) took a big blow along with many other sectors. It felt that there was no end to the uncertainty and need for change at work and home. Then add the social and political turmoil that we all went through. Millions of people lost their jobs. Some businesses may not come back. The manager of a food distribution center I volunteered at a couple of months ago told me that they serve several times more people this year than last year. A World Bank report says that the pandemic “is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year.”

But as I introspect my life and look around into the lives of people I know, things seem just fine. Indeed, everyone went through changes. Despite some inconveniences, most seemed to have adopted well. Nobody stopped buying things. Thanks to millions of gig-workers that we don’t mind exploiting, we’re all getting what we need and want conveniently delivered to our homes. People are meeting in small bubbles and enjoying their lives. Everyone baked, and I did too. Folks are investing in their health, wealth, and well-being. For the most part, stock markets did well. Per CNBC, the top seven tech companies added $3.4 trillion in value in 2020. Many in the tech industry got richer.

How come?

Did we make all the right choices at the right time to prepare for a year like this? Maybe those who did not work hard and failed to make the right decisions are paying the price? It seems convenient and comfortable to think so.

Or is it because of the privilege we accumulated over the years through all the opportunities provided to us?

As I introspect my own life, circumstances, opportunities, and choices, I’ve no reason to believe that I worked hard and made all the right choices at the right time every time.

I must admit that I’m privileged. My gender, who I was born to, the schools I went to, the companies I worked for, and the people in my personal and professional life slowly but steadily contributed to my privilege over the years. I can’t wash off this privilege with some year-end charitable donations, or some pithy words of wisdom.

That’s my lesson in 2020.

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