A disheartening trend in current events is the continued polarization of viewpoints, often driven by assumptions, absolutes and general lack of empathy. In the midst of the current discussions on student loan forgiveness, I see common arguments that those calling for debt relief are “entitled,” “lazy,” “irresponsible” or lacking in work ethic. This poses another huge burden on those of us with chronic illness. Just when we feel like we already have to exert extra effort in all areas of our lives, the hits just keep coming.
In response to those sharing often strongly-worded and condescending opinions claiming taxpayers should not bear the burden of others’ fiscal irresponsibility or even “laziness,” I offer an alternate perspective.
What about the person who worked hard, did not take “extra time” in school, held jobs while getting their bachelor’s degree, sacrificed years of their life to become a doctor which resulted in over $200,000 in student loans, and then during residency developed a rare and debilitating chronic illness? Then she had 20 surgeries within two years and accrued more debt because of medical bills and having to take leaves of absence from work. This person does not qualify for student loan forgiveness on the basis of disability because she is still considered “well enough” to work by the Social Security Administration, and she is single so she has no choice but to work full-time. It’s also too late to transition into a less physically demanding profession. On top of that, consider the fact that tuition and cost of living have increased disproportionately to income.
What are the options for that person? What about the constant cycle of wishing she had gotten ill early enough in life to abort an expensive education or, possibly worse, that she was disabled enough not to work — a thought process driven by desires to relieve any aspects of the financial, physical and emotional burden that is chronic illness? Is it possible that this person asking for student loan forgiveness may actually be working harder, or at least expending more energy, by simply trying to survive in this society?
Do not mistake struggling for whining or entitlement. There are not options for people who have made financially sound career choices and struggle due to circumstances out of their control. Everything has gone to such extremes, leaving no solutions for those trapped in the middle. And this person is not hypothetical. This person exists. This person is me.