Our Privilege of Consciousness

the phrase be conscious on a pin board

In this world of wonderful mysteries, there’s a great gift that we’re blessed with: the privilege of consciousness. The mere fact that we’re aware of our surroundings, our emotions, and our own existence is a remarkable thing. We often take this privilege for granted, but it’s the one that we should most cherish and celebrate.

To be conscious means to be alive.Living means we can feel the warmth of the sun on our skin, hear the rustling of leaves in the wind, taste the sweetness of honey on our tongues, see the beauty of a sunset, and smell the freshness of the morning dew. We’re allowed to experience love, joy, happiness, and a whole host of other emotions that make life worth living. But unlike mere beasts, we can communicate, express ourselves, and create. We can think, reason, and ponder the mysteries of the universe.

The privilege of consciousness also means we have the power of choice. We can choose our actions, our thoughts, and our attitudes. Perhaps the machinations of society, which ironically we contribute to both directly and indirectly, can seem to limit our ability to choose. But, with the privilege of consciousness, we can choose how we are to others in our disposition. 

Consciously, we can control our attitudes; we can choose to be kind, compassionate, and empathetic, or we can choose to be selfish, cruel, and indifferent. We can choose to follow our dreams and passions, although many seem to settle for a life of mediocrity; the latter is still a conscious choice for which there’s no excuse. 

Most importantly, the privilege of consciousness also brings with it a sense of responsibility.We can choose to make a positive impact on the world, but we can also choose to contribute to its destruction. Over the course of our lives, we sometimes do both, and not always entirely consciously, revealing the paradox of our own free will.

But, our own ignorance of the subconscious and unconscious forces at work manipulating our conscious being can’t be easily explained away. No matter what we do, we’re responsible for our own lives, our own choices, and our own happiness. Plus, we’re also responsible for the impact we have on others. We have the power to make a difference, so it’s our divinely-given duty to use that power wisely.

With this great privilege comes great vulnerability. The consciousness that makes us aware of the beauty of the world likewise makes us aware of its darkness.We’re aware of the pain and suffering of others, of the injustices and inequalities that exist in our society, and of our own mortality. We must be aware of the fragility of life; everything we hold dear can be taken away from us in an instant. Any one who denies the existence of one or more of these things is either delusional, self-absorbed, or both.

Despite the many challenges that come with consciousness, and the vulnerability we experience, the privilege of consciousness is a gift that should be cherished. Let’s always strive to use it for the greater good.

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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