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OP-ED: Existence is a lottery

  • Published at 01:06 am November 15th, 2020
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Being born into wealth or poverty makes all the difference 

If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, your whole life is set without doing anything.

If you are born into a privileged class, you have the chance to increase your amenities tenfold. But god forbid if you are born into a lower class. And god forbid if you are born into the lower class in a Third World country. 

I recently went to Nilkhet to print some cards. My specifications were complicated to say the least, and my time and budget meant that I couldn’t go to someone more “professional.” Right in front of me, the owner of the printing shop started doing manoeuvers on Illustrator that I could only dream of -- and he did so swiftly, confidently, and effortlessly. I was asking him about some of the different methods he used to verify my own knowledge, and he seemed to know what he was doing as well. 

Within minutes, he could churn out good cards that went perfectly with the project I had in mind, and beyond. 

Now, sure, I might have only been enamored by him because he came through for me in my time of need. Sure, I might have been enamored by him due to my lack of experience. But when someone from Nilkhet gets pennies for the same level of work churned out by some of the more reputed agencies, shouldn’t one start looking at life a little differently? 

Then again, some might say that while the guy in Nilkhet has the necessary skills for graphic design, he lacks some of the other skills, which puts him on a low pay grade. But when that is the only difference between him and an agency-verified graphic designer, doesn’t that invite some questions about the structure we inhabit? 

Structural poverty is no joke. While we are wowed by stories of impoverished students making it in “life” by acing their board exams, they are one in a thousand. Even then, a lot of them don’t do that well in the established standards themselves, and often get lost when it comes to places such as the job market. 

Sure, some might consider what these kids have done as achievements, but still, when one has to use matchsticks to enjoy a basic right like education, how is that inspirational? When someone has to fight tooth and nail for something that people of the upper class take for granted, how is that anything but dystopic? 

The only reason that this is even happening is dumb luck. It is dumb luck that someone is born in the US while someone is born in a country that is ravaged by the US. It is dumb luck that someone is born with a perfectly healthy body while somebody spends their days in a wheelchair. It is dumb luck that someone is born with rich parents while others aren’t. And it is certainly dumb luck that someone can afford education while some have to take care of their baby sister on the streets of DU with no parents. 

And in this dumb luck, those who win the lottery are the ones that gain the most. Structural poverty has been a heated topic in recent academia. For example, studies have shown that the richest families in Florence have been that way for hundreds of years. Big conglomerates like Amazon will run a dynasty for hundreds more. Even Donald Trump -- someone who has made bad deals and has gone bankrupt at least six times in his career (through his ventures and some) -- will still get to eat with a literal golden spoon, while the guy from Nilkhet could be on the streets tomorrow, even when he hasn’t made a mistake. 

So, what do I want to say with this long rant? Plenty. But this is meant to be an entryway into an alternate world of discourse, a wider source of knowledge. It is a world where things aren’t taken for granted, where established norms are challenged, and where traditional structures are decimated in an effort to bring about a better place. 

While in the past, the effort has failed, been dismantled, and spit upon, time and time again, that effort has come back -- that empathy, goodness, and human spirit is not dead. Even though it is a dream, a better world is possible. And at times like this, I really, truly want to believe that a better world is possible. 

Then again, I got the idea for this article while being sleep and water-deprived in some dinky alleyway in Nilkhet, where I was making my own “mistakes,” according to the status quo. 

I mean, I go to the top business school of the country, and instead of doing internships and rocking competitions, I was spending top dollar on cards that I want to use to tell some stories.

I’m a final year student who wants to tell stories, instead of joining a big corporation, earning money, and becoming “successful.” So yeah. What do I know, right? 

Nafis Shahriar is a student of business and a freelance writer.