• Kristin Perissinotto

Got privilege? Use it.

We're living in the most volatile political time in many decades. Not just in our home of Australia, around the world. Alignment of a worldwide pandemic, a populist US president who had no business taking office, and the rise of a well-organised vocal minority has resulted in a world filled with a lot of divides.

COVID has increased the gap between the classes, for example, compare massive corporations who increased profits from JobKeeper to someone with an insecure job in the arts. One got richer, and one got poorer. COVID lockdowns increased reports of domestic violence, and racist attacks on people with Asian heritage.

In the past year, Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins have both come out strongly in support of making legislative changes to tackle the very prevalent issue of sexual assault, but little has been implemented. The federal government is no closer to making meaningful change and reconciling with First Nations People, who are present and dying in custody at a significantly high rate.

The alt-right and neo-Nazi groups are organising and recruiting at anti-lockdown and anti-mask protests, taking advantage of vulnerable people who are worried about their future and their businesses. Our government is full of carbon copies of the same person: white, middle-aged, straight, able-bodied men.

The list could go on, but you get it. The world is kinda fucked.

Which is why it is our responsibility, as privileged people, to do something about it. Do something about something, do anything about anything. 'Not knowing what to do,' or being ignorant to the issues simply isn't enough anymore. Not that it ever was, really. But now it really isn't. If you have privilege, you should be using it. If you have a high disposable income, donate. If you have lots of spare time, volunteer. If you have friends who need to be educated on the issues, do it.

It's not okay to stand by and watch marginalised groups be attacked, neglected, ignored. A federal election will be coming up sometime in the next six months, so volunteer for a candidate you believe in, or have a frank discussion with your parents about how they vote. Join an organisation you think is doing good work. Support a cause that amplifies marginalised voices and - and this is important - offer your help in the background.

It's easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom, it's easy to be totally overwhelmed by the state of our country, the world, the climate. But if you can do something, you should. I would even go so far as to say you must. Not all of us have the power to change the world individually, but we can make change collectively. Big, significant, important, vital change. Whether it's with regular donations, doing volunteer work, getting a job in an org that makes a difference, giving blood, or becoming unashamedly outspoken at work or home.

If you have the privilege of a high income, familial wealth, spare time, good mental health, power at work, or simply because you've benefitted genetically, it's your responsibility to use it. If you think the world is an unfair place, help change it. If you think the political system is broken, join it. If you think systems are unjust, change them. We can't sit back. We can't wait for other people to change things. We can't ignore problems that don't affect us.

In itself, it is a privilege to be able to make a positive impact. It's a privilege to have spare time, money, capabilities. If you have a social conscience, and the ability to make even the smallest positive impact, why wouldn't you? It's wrong not to. We cannot point fingers at those we think have failed if we are not making change ourselves. If you have privilege, it's your responsibility to use it. Speak up, contribute, join the cause, and be a part of the change we so desperately need.