Ben Hsu

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Blog · Essay · Nonfiction

Eye for Selfish Eye

Closest picture to an eye I had on file.

I lost my left eye to cancer when I was two, and I have to tell you, it sucks growing up with a glass eye. For one thing, the other children don’t believe you unless you take it out, which you’ve been explicitly told not to do by every adult in the world. So they make fun of you for making up stories. On the off chance the some kids do believe you, they make fun of you for being different. Oh, and you suck at sportsball. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you’ve been assigned male and you’re bad at sports gym class is pretty much your own private hell for fifty minutes a day. The rotten cherry on top of the whole situation is that you’re left with a nice, healthy dose of paranoia because you’re constantly on the watch for an unspecified ‘something’ to take your one working eye. It’s super easy to make friends with that kind of attitude.

Thus I grew up resentful, angry, and depressed, and because I was so young I couldn’t fully articulate (even to myself) what I was so resentful, angry, and depressed about. (If you’ve been reading my blog you know I had a whole host of other issues, but this piece is about my glass eye, so we’re going to focus on that.) I remember at one point in high school my mother showed me an article about new cancer treatments and specifically how doctors had developed better treatments for the specific type of cancer that took my eye. All I could think at that news was, “Well fuck them. Why didn’t they work faster? No one should be allowed to have these treatments because I didn’t get them. People should have to know what it’s like to have only one eye for their whole lives before they’re allowed treatment.”

I want you to consider what teenage me thought right now. Because it is single-handedly the most selfish thing I have ever thought. I’d simultaneously wished harm on people who’d done me no wrong; while elevating myself above them for suffering the very trauma I wished upon them. I wouldn’t have even gotten something out of it, the thought was pure, illogical spite.

Obviously, I’m better now. I don’t want the next generation to suffer any of the issue’s I had growing up. If anything I want them to take a look at my life and say, “Wow, that’s fucked up. I’m glad we don’t have to deal with that shit.”

Which is why I find it so disturbing that this type of argument is still being used, constantly. “I used to get up a 4am everyday, so why can’t you?” “I walked from storefront to storefront to get a job, you’re just lazy!” and the every popular, “I took out student loans and I’ve done just fine, why should we have debt forgiveness?” Because people are different, times change, and you should want the next generation to have it easier than you. So the next time someone gives you some bullshit about how easy millennials have it, ask them if they’d be willing to lose their left eye. After all, I’ve gone my whole life without one, everyone should have to or they’re just needlessly complaining in a world that’s handed them everything on a platter.

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