As we move towards the end of 2020, we want to recognize that while this year has been significantly challenging, the hard truths we’ve been confronted with in 2020 will not cease to exist in 2021, or thereafter.
That said, we believe in the human spirit, and we remain hopeful that through humanity’s long held capacity for open communication, adaptability, and innovation, together we can make change.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
While we love these words by Margaret Mead, we can’t help but wonder, if a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, what change could take place if more of us could find common ground with one another, acknowledge and accept the difference in our experiences, and still find a way to work together towards a brighter future?
To be a part of any effective group, it’s important to know your role, to understand your personal strengths and weaknesses, and to remain open to the perspectives and ideas of the other members of the group.
Today, we are honoured to share with you some powerful words of wisdom from Annu Dha, Clinical Counsellor & Psychology Blogger, on practicing gratitude through the lens of privilege. We believe that for many of us, this is an important first step to understanding and embracing our individual identities in society, so that we can move forward as an inclusive community with greater strength and clarity.
Gratitude Through the Lens of Privilege
Expressing gratitude has been highlighted throughout Woodlot blogs as an effort to preserve and maintain mental health and overall wellbeing. Showing gratitude with intent is a natural way to bring positivity into your life and shift your focus to being present. Being present is one of the key factors in being happy and fulfilled. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t create goals or think about your future. It simply means that one needs to be present in order to enjoy the journey they are experiencing. This journey is not meant to be perfect but if you are shifting your focus to the beauty in your journey, your mood tends to follow along.
What if we couldn’t express gratitude the same way our neighbor could?
What if others got to be grateful for an experience that we would be fearful of?
What if our access to resources were limited based on the color of our skin?
This is privilege. Privilege sets one apart when given an advantage or specialty in comparison to another person or group. Today we are going to focus on expressing gratitude using the lens of privilege as an effort to be intentional to be grateful for things we may be taking for granted.
Being able to read this piece
Although global literacy rates have gone up since the 1970’s, many adults still fall between the cracks depending on your geographical location, access to education, and gender. Be thankful that you are able to get behind your smartphone or computer device, open an article of your choice and understand what you are reading.
Eating this morning
Deciding to eat a quick muffin before rushing out the door or meeting a friend for poached eggs with chipotle hollandaise sauce is not a luxury that everyone has. Despite the world producing enough food to feed the mouths of every single living person, people are dying from hunger or malnourishment every single day. Unlike global literacy, this trend is not getting better. From 2018 to 2019, the number of undernourished people grew by 10 million, and there are nearly 60 million more undernourished people now than in 2014. Next time you are having a tough time finding the silver lining in your bad day, it may be as simple as reciting your food intake for the day to help make that shift in mood.
Walking to your desired destination
Safety is a foundational universal human need. Unfortunately the feeling of safety does not resonate with all individuals depending on race, sex, gender, socioeconomic status and other variables. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, without safety we cannot move onto higher secondary emotions such as self-actualization and self-fulfillment as our foundation is at risk. In recent events, we have witnessed safety as a concern to many victims of police brutality in the most developed places in the world. It is something that some of us never have to think about, and how fortunate we are to be able to walk to work or to the local park. However, there are individuals who fear for their safety even when in the general public. They fear the even police who are meant to keep us safe, and who are in a position of power, but as we have seen, can be using their power wrongfully.
“To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Expressing gratitude not only serves our personal life satisfaction but has the power to do greater things. When we express gratitude and use our lens of privilege we create awareness of the injustices that are occurring in our presence. It gives us the ability to embark on change, and participate in a movement bigger than us, when we can see and feel how an experience would be different for our neighbour. Like the pioneer for breaking walls of privilege, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg once stated, “To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Reflect on your privilege often, express gratitude, and be part of the change.
Thank you to Annu Dha for sharing her insights and ideas with us. We look forward to meditating on them in the coming weeks, and beyond. If you found this article helpful, please share it with loved ones or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you’d like to see more of this type of content on our blog.
With love + light,
Images by Sheena Zilinski (@sheenazilinski).