Look what you’ve done. I should be editing my novel. I should be making another trip to the hardware store. I should be plastering a wall. Making dinner. Reading Ibram X. Kendi’s brilliant How to be an Antiracist. But here I am writing a post, because you—maybe not you specifically, but generally you—keep getting mad at the wrong people.
Imagine, for a moment, that you had to suffer through something awful. Let’s say you spent ten years “digging up” to get out of student debt.
Say you finally managed to get to a place of financial solvency. Great. Congratulations. You overcame a massive hurdle and a frustrating ordeal against the odds and at great personal sacrifice, and you should be proud of yourself.
Then someone comes along and says “let’s cancel everyone’s student debt.”
You, a hard-working success story, have two ways to respond, and the reason I’m writing this is because you keep responding the wrong way.
The right way is to say “Fantastic, now nobody will have to go through this unnecessary hardship ever again! The world is becoming a better place, and I am glad of it.”
The other way is to say “Hey! I had to go through this awful experience, you should too!” This is, to put it bluntly, asinine.
No, it isn’t fair that you had to struggle so hard for education, for something that should be a human right. But the reason it’s unfair isn’t that someone else is not going to have to struggle like you did. The reason it’s unfair is because you had to do so in the first place. Nobody should. If you’re going to be mad, be mad that it didn’t get fixed in time for you to take advantage of it. Be mad that you had to struggle. But don’t be mad that others won’t have to in the future.
Education debt isn’t the only place I’m seeing this asinine reaction. I’ve legitimately had to tell people this about healthcare in the past couple of weeks. Healthcare. Someone genuinely said to me that they worked hard so their family could have good health care, and if other people don’t have it, then they should just work hard too. Readers, many curse words were ungraciously sputtered in sheer disbelief. This genuine, bona fide asshole honestly thought that the roughly thirty million people in America who don’t have healthcare just don’t work hard enough to merit it. As though healthcare weren’t something you merit by the simple virtue of being human.
And before you start in on boomers, this mindset isn’t just limited to boomers shouting “back in my day” without realizing that in their day you could afford a house in the suburbs with a two car garage and two cars to put in it on the minimum wage. That would be one thing. But this is Gen X’ers and even older Millennials (such as my 36-year-old self, yes: we’re getting older now) who have legitimate grievances. Yes, we went through hard things. No, we shouldn’t have. NO, this does not mean you can blame the recipients of a better world for the fact that you didn’t live in that world.
I didn’t get Polio as a kid. I didn’t get Polio because I was vaccinated against Polio. It was a nice privilege I inherited because of the hard work of others. They not only invented a vaccine, but pushed for it to be given out for free. At no point would it have made sense for someone who managed to survive Polio to say “I got Polio and overcame it, why shouldn’t you have to?” Why? Because that’s bafflingly unreasonable, that’s why.
Your endurance and survival of negative things does not mean others should have to endure and survive them, too. You’re mad at the wrong people. And if you’re not going to help make the world a better place regardless of its benefit to you? Well at least do us all a favour and get the hell out of the way.
Signed: The Remixologist.
Featured image is the meme image known as “Side Eyeing Chloe.”