I’m a middle-class, cisgender, white, male living in the 21st century. This affords me a non-trivial amount of privilege. I was reminded of this tonight as I had “Call the Midwife” S04E03 on in the background and I listened to how the English landlords refused lodgings to the Irish, and how homosexuality was treated with oestrogen tablets, with unpleasant side-effects. Despite being a fictional show, I don’t doubt it reasonably accurately reflects the reality of mid-20th century England, and it made me extremely uncomfortable, but also glad that I life in a time and place where I’m not directly affected by this sort of thing.
I subsequently saw the following:
If you're into hackfests and #opendata, please read this. I'm guilty on most fronts here, so much to think about. https://t.co/8xS2itFZkc— email@example.com (@stevage1) April 21, 2016
Open Government & inequality- two sides of the same coin? https://t.co/972tEa5iWw @croakeyblog @sauramaia @FCTweedie @stevage1 @craigthomler— Rosie Williams (@Info_Aus) April 21, 2016
And read Rosie’s blog post in the referenced tweet, which really reinforced my middle-class-ness, hitting particularly close to home because it referenced the GovHack Red Carpet awards in which I was involved last year. Rosie’s post also references the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union Conference from Tuesday, one of the sessions of which I caught the tail end of a video stream of, and was appalled by the circumstances the speakers have to endure.
Having now started to feel bad about the fact that I have spent a significant amount of time wasting my privilege by not using it to help people less fortunate than me, I’m letting this serve as a reminder that we should be always evaluating where we decide to focus our efforts to maximise value while still bringing us joy and satisfaction.
I am passionate about plenty of social justice issues, from queer and trans discrimination, to feminism, to openness and transparency, and I’m only starting to see the tip of the iceberg on issues of unemployment, poverty, class, and racism. I need to remind myself that I can’t efficiently give my time to all of these causes, but I can carefully pick my battles, and do my best to make a positive impact, while listening to and amplifying the voices of those I’m trying to help.