I am incredibly fortunate.
My friends and I discuss this fact at great length during our stint at university – as we lounge in the sun, nursing our hangovers with an embarrassingly ample supply of happy hippos and coconut macaroons – between regaling one another with horrifying tales from the previous evening.
“We’ve won the lottery of life” says Baby M.
It’s true. We are so lucky.
Life is a lottery. A complete game of chance. None of us asked for this. Our lives are completely coincidental. A happy accident.
We were born into a country where education is not only free but compulsory. Where we are granted low interest loans so that we may drink away our youth for three years with gay abandon if we so choose.
Where if we are sick we are entitled to medical help, regardless of the amount of money we have managed to accumulate. So, if the mancunian has staggered down the Q bar staircase and broken her wrist, she may stumble into Royal Berks and receive attention (some of it medical).
Where we are only ever hungry if we want to be – usually because we have guzzled too much white wine and post-pub pieces of toast and are now fasting in a superficial attempt to look skinnier.
I was born into a loving family who wanted me. Who taught me to aspire to great things. Who continue to care for me long after I should have flown the nest. Because they can. Because they were never forced to send me to work at the age of 5 as they couldn’t afford to eat otherwise.
I’ve never had to fight for my rights. I’ve had them awarded to me as basic human freedoms. And I am incredibly grateful for that.
But – being the greedy western girl I am. I’m still unsatisfied.
I want more rights. For more people. I want more justice. I want every woman to have access to birth control – and to be educated enough to understand its importance. I want everybody to have to go to school. I want everybody to be able to drink water without fear of contracting disease. I want all children to grow up believing they have a fighting chance.
I believe that human rights are universal rights, not just rights for those fortunate enough to have been born in the Western hemisphere.
When I was 13, I decided I wanted to be a journalist. Evocatively reporting from the frontline of the human rights battle. Bringing to the fore issues I felt were crucially important. I wanted to reveal wrongdoing and expose injustice. I wanted to ignite a passion in the people I reported to – to create positive change and cultural awakening.
Then I got to uni.
We lived in this lovely little bubble. Our lives consisted of laughter, dance floors and drinking games – occasionally interspersed with those unavoidable library trips.
In this hedonistic daze I somewhat lost my drive, I was so preoccupied by my lovely life that I forgot about everyone else.
I started writing about my wonderful friends, my education and all the opportunities that have arisen owing to the fact I live in this wonderful liberal metropolis.
You see, I wasn’t fighting for my basic rights – so I had a lot of time to focus on such creative pursuits.
But there is still so much hardship and suffering and wasted talent in the world – all owing to the fact that basic human rights still aren’t being treated as basic human rights.
And so, the fight still very much continues.
Now that my MA has come to an end I must face the harsh truth that I am no longer a student.
Now who do I want to be?
Mahatma Gandhi said “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I want to live in a world where people take chances in pursuit of positive change. Where the right to go to school is universal. I want to live in a world where – when we witness injustice we actually tackle it, instead of standing idly by and hoping someone else will do it.
Yes, I also want to live in a world where I can play singstar and drink banana milkshake and gallop up corridors; the silly stuff is still important. But I don’t want to live in a world where we allow it to overshadow everything else.
Here, in this magnificent nation-state, I am perfectly safe and comfortable. But out there, so many people are in danger for attempting to exercise fundamental freedoms. So really, in the long term, the safe decision is the dangerous one.
That’s why I’m going to India with VSO – to help in creating a cross cultural community based on understanding and support.
I hope this will be the beginning of something really amazing.
Of course I am no saint – otherwise surely I would be fighting these battles right here at home for starters. I have a selfish desire to travel – to learn about the world first hand.
I believe that ignorance stems from a lack of education. And I don’t want to be ignorant. I want to educate myself and in doing so gain a deeper understanding of the issues we face and how best to overcome them.
I’ll continue to write about the issues faced and how Pravah – the organisation I’m volunteering with – is working to tackle them. In the meantime I’m undertaking a series of exciting fundraising events including Bristol Half Marathon – so stay tuned for embarrassing updates and amusing anecdotes.
I’m raising money with JustGiving and any support however small is SO appreciated.
In the meantime, don’t stay too safe.