My life is a privileged life. I was born to parents who believe freedom and love are most important. I was not born to a mother who would have to sell me or kill me at birth because she could not afford to pay the fees of having a second child. At five years old, my father did not beat my mother to death and abandon me with my younger brother to care for, scrounging for food off manure covered streets. When I was sixteen, my parents did not arrange my marriage to a man that would abuse me, give me HIV, and then kill himself, leaving me with nothing but my ravishing disease and empty belly. By the time I was twenty, I had not run away from home and given myself to any and every man willing to satisfy the longing of not knowing my true father. After I turned twenty-two nobody told me I was not allowed to educate myself or experience the world and all its opportunity because I was a woman.
Since birth, I have been clothed, oftentimes with things too frivolous and expensive. I have never gone hungry or thirsty but by choice. I have always had what I needed. My family was impoverished for a time, unbeknownst to me. What I did not know could not affect me, could not hurt me. There is a common perception in our society concerning the suffering of this world: “if I do not know about it, it is not happening.” However, if I am aware am I responsible to do something? My heart leads me to believe either chosen ignorance or knowledge without action would guarantee my guilt.
My life is a privileged life. I have traveled a small portion of the world. Experience has taken me to orphanages in Thailand and India. It has drawn me through the homes of the homeless in Edinburgh. I have spent time with the broken and imprisoned. I have seen pain and suffering. I have heard heartbreak. My knowledge has created my responsibility. My responsibility is to freely give justice, equality, freedom and so much more to those who have never received it before.
I choose to live for my family I have never met; for my sisters never given a chance of life, for my brothers abandoned on the streets, for my mothers working their fragile, crusted fingers until their demise, and for my fathers who would have provided food for their families if they had not been sent to war. I live to bring food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, love to the widowed and left behind, and education to those who seek it. I live to expose this world of sorrow to others, to the satisfied. I live to pierce the inert with the double edge of my tongue and pen. I live to get them to move, to breathe, to give, not for themselves but for others. To act and initiate on another’s behalf seeking nothing for yourself, not even recognition; this is service.
My life is a privileged life. I have experienced freedom and have known love. This world is not a place of inherent freedoms or free love. Maybe it should be, but it is not. I have also attempted to live a life of service. My life has led me to people of different nations around the world. I went to share with what freedom and love I had. Unexpectedly, they gave me abundantly more. My life is a privileged life.
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