The priviledge of choice

Priviledge is an interesting word. People normally associate it with monetary wealth and social status.Those with priviledge are seen to be facing less glass ceilings and are less restricted when it comes to their choice of school, career and general life choices.

So, why am I talking about priviledge?

Over the last few months, I have immersed myself into the world of those who are differently-abled, those who have conditions that are incapacitating and those who are struggling to live a normal life with various invisible health conditions. I have watched the debate around the use of plastic straws in the UK, knowing full well that, although these items are horrible for the environment, they permit a certain population in this country to retain some dignity and independence. However, the debate has largely taken place within communities that have the ability to choose not to use a straw to drink from, in essence, they are priviledged with their lack of disability.

Priviledge is not having more money or more status. It is having more choice. Due to my health conditions, I am unable to digest most fruits, vegetables and legumes. I found this out when I was phasing out meat products from my life and trying to go vegan. I would dearly love to have the choice not to eat meat to survive but that is no longer an option. I do not have that choice anymore.

Being differently-abled inevitably leads to needing to adapt your life in a society that is not catered for your needs and so you will incur expenses. Be they financial or time. There is one thing in common for all differently-abled people and that is the fact that we do not have the luxury of choice when it comes to taking care of our needs or our health.

For example, visually impaired people will likely need specialist software and equipment to go about their daily lives and work independently, wheelchair users will be limited by physical barriers, those with invisible conditions might not be able to handle public transport or normal school. I list but a few of the types of adaptations that are needed for such a diverse population.

Over the last few months, I have been challenged several times over why I do not automatically use a fair trade product, reduce my carbon emissions, give up meat etc. My response is simple: check your priviledge. I, like many differently-abled people, might not have the luxury of choice.

As a sidenote: I do clean up my supply chain where possible and manageable. I also buy fair trade and as ethically clean products where and when possible.


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