Sensitization through deprivation

It is the month of Ramadhan, and for Muslims, it is the fasting month. They are forbidden to (among others) eat and drink from dawn till dusk.

I sat on the bus as the vehicle moved to Hamilius terminal. This morning was a bit different, I didn’t put my earphones. I let the noise of the engine and chatters filled my ears as I looked outside. I saw a lady sipped a coffee at the cafe, people buying breads from the patisserie. Freely. Enjoyably. While at the same place, there could be a person who can’t enjoy those luxuries. Maybe they can’t eat because they can’t afford to buy one. They can’t drink because they can’t afford to get one. Or perhaps, they can’t eat and drink because their illness prevents them to do so.

That very moment was when I felt that, again, I could be one of those. The unfortunate ones. By seeing things from the other side, you become very much aware of what you don’t have. And this is usually followed by envy. As an Indonesian proverb says: the neighbour’s grass always looks greener.

Realising that there are many more that you don’t have is just a starting point. And it is a good one. The next consequence is twofold: to be thankful of the things you have; and to be aware that things should not be taken for granted.

Here is the thing,

Abundance is good outside but dangerous.
Deprivation is bad outside but good.

As human beings, you cannot escape the immediacy of the eyes. What you see is what you believe (at the first time). First impression is captured through the eyes. Only after then you begin to appreciate your opponent’s inner beauty. A book is judged by its cover, if you don’t have any idea of what could be inside. There are something good (from the outset) that is bad for you, and there are something bad (from the outset) that is good for you.

Abundance hides what really matters.
Deprivation reveals what really matters.

A couple that loves each other in the good times (good career, financially secure, healthy, famous, etc.) is normal. But a couple that still loves each other in the bad times (just got fired, bankrupt, sick, etc.) knows what really matters in their relationship. Abundance blinds one's ability to see the essentials.

Abundance impedes questioning.
Deprivation invigorates questioning.

To have a lot of things at your disposal makes you don’t want to question what you have. Because it is scary. By questioning, you might lose what you have. You might know something that you wish you wouldn’t. But to be deprived makes you dare to question, why is it like the way it is? Can the current situation be changed? You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

Abundance wastes.
Deprivation safes.

In business, this is called as lean management. To have too much inventory leads to a waste of resources. Time, money, and energy. This is why, when a company implements “zero waste” policy, the main output is a dramatic improvement in efficiency and cost savings.

Abundance clutters.
Deprivation cleanses.

A design that has a lot of contents creates clutter. It diffuses the audience’s attention and hampers the impact. But a simple design, if it is done right, has a power to grab the audience’s attention and sticks. It cleanses the mind to focus.

Abundance numbs our senses.
Deprivation sensitizes our senses.

Think of a spoiled guy. Everything he wants he gets, right here and right now. This is very dangerous because this kind of person will never appreciate hardships and failed to realise that everything needs an effort. It will be very difficult for him to understand the value of waiting and working. But if you live in deprivation, you start to understand that it takes time to get something. It takes hard work to achieve something. You begin to respect the effort of others, appreciate the process, and be more sensitive to the sufferings experienced by the people around you. Only then, you start helping others.