I have always grown up privileged. It is one thing that I am lucky to have and I have been aware that much of the life that I have is due to random chance that I grew up in a white family with two loving parents with stable jobs. I work extremely hard for what I get but I do have a very solid unwavering foundation to work upon. I have consistently reminded you of this privilege that you have been given but it wasn’t until 2020 that I fully understood the weight of my privilege.
I know that you have heard it in news, your history books, or mutterings with your friends. As of today, almost 50,000 people have died. As Jews, there has been persecution amongst us for as long as our people live. On Passover, we sit around a table and talk about when we were slaves in Egypt. Every year on Yom HaShoah we recount the persecution of 6 million of our people. These attacks were deliberate and full of hate. In 2020 this was a new kind of attack, not one that targeted people of certain race or religious beliefs. The whole world was affected by a natural killer. This is a fight that we were all in together.
I spend the last two months of my teenage years locked up in my home. Before this, I was dreaming of a break. With college work winding up, I was constantly saying that I just need a pause. Several months ago, this would be everything that I ever wanted. Now, I sit here listening to the news tell me about death tolls rising and am guilt stricken. I wanted a pause on life but I never could have imagined the pause coming at such great cost.
Would you believe it when I told you I was considered an essential worker? Yeah it was weird for me to take in too. In high school, people would look down on me working at Publix, thinking that I would never make it to college. Now, I’m back and filled with praise for my hard work and bravery that I have now, I’m back and filled with praise for my hard work and bravery that I have by bagging people’s groceries. It is a strange feeling but the feeling of being grateful was the most abundant. I have a job and my parents have kept theirs, I have a loving family, I get to spend more time with my sister, I have a house with an office that I can get my work done, I am healthy and not at risk, I have friends that care greatly about me, and I can still get quality education. Although I have to sit at home for months at a time, I am living the best possible life that I can be.
Here are a few things that I have learned through this pandemic.
- Understand your privilege and never take that for granted
- Listen to your community and do everything that you possibly can to help
- Be kind. You never know what someone else is going through. It is easy for me to continue on with my life right now but I have many friends who are scared for their life currently and you can never know people’s personal challenges
It is my hope that you grow up with that gratefulness engrained in you. You were blessed with so many amazing opportunities and many people are not so lucky. Be humble and make sure that you do absolutely everything that you can to give back to the community.