This has been something I’ve been thinking about for a while. It’s something I tweeted about a few weeks back in one of those “thread” things I promised I’d never do (if you need to thread, why not just blog? I know, I even got annoyed with myself for doing it). Anyway, with NZ political news being the way it is in the last few days, it seems even more relevant now. So here I go.
I am privileged. I was born with privilege. I am white, straight and educated (with a university education that I didn’t have to pay for). I am married, I am employed. I am of good health and of sound mind (most of the time). I was raised by two married parents in a state house, that they eventually bought when I was a young teenager. My parents both worked, mum part time and dad full time (with two jobs at some points in life). I’d say we were most definitely working class and I was the first in my family to ever go to University. It was a big thing. What I’m saying is that some of this privilege has come with birth and some by situation, and a lot of the situation stuff can obviously change at any point in our lives; jobs can be lost, relationships can break down, health can suffer. We all hope it won’t but it can. Any of us could end up needed help at any time and we hope to live in a society where there is a safety net.
This brings me back to my original twitter rant a few weeks ago. I had seen someone on twitter make homophobic and racist comments. I had long ago stopped following this person but good old twitter wanted me to see other people’s responses. It made my blood boil. Her comments came in the light of Pride day. She said they were just her opinion, but frankly they were hurtful and quite frankly abusive. She said that people made life choices and she was entitled to her opinion. No. No you aren’t. Being gay or trans or a person of colour is NOT a life choice and you certainly don’t have the right to have an opinion on in. People are born that way.
At this point some people dared to defend her, some citing her lack of intelligence (they maybe had a point there) but defending this kind of behaviour, and even that train of thought come to think about it, is part of the problem. Plenty of people however began to call her out on it and I’m glad they did. I wish I had. I should have. Would it have made a difference? I doubt it. I’ve called her out on it before and she still does it. But more importantly I shouldn’t give up.
So now to The Green party’s announcements this week. The #IAmMetiria hashtag is heartbreaking and if you haven’t read it yet, you should. It is a true representation of how people on benefits feel and what they have experienced. My timeline is flooded with it and quite frankly, New Zealand, it is not good enough. We have to do something about this and we have to change the status quo. This cannot go on. The hashtag has challenged the preconception a lot of people have about people who receive benefits; a preconception often pushed forward in mainstream media.
Will voting for The Greens help my family financially? No. Will it help many many more families in New Zealand? Yes. Will this make New Zealand a better place to live? Yes. Do I want to raise my family in a country that helps everyone when they need it? Yes. I don’t want tax cuts. I want everyone to have everything they need to be warm, healthy and educated. We need to stop thinking about just ourselves and think about others; less about the individual, more about society.
Twitter has educated me. Of course, it’s a bubble. I don’t agree with everything I read but it has given me insight to the struggles other people face and the kind of lives they lead.
If we have privilege we need to use it. We need to use it to help others.