Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Rise of The Victim

I'm still reading The Godless Constitution (it cleared up considerably after the introduction), and I've had some interesting thoughts.
When the Constitution was being drafted and ratified, there was something called a religious test that I'd never heard of. Most states required people to take a religious test certifying that they were Christian- and usually a specific kind of Christian. But in Article 6 there's a line that says, basically, 'no religious tests.' Everyone was very upset about it. What if we get a Catholic for president? Or a Jew? Or, horrors, an atheist?! In all, very interesting, and I haven't finished reading yet.
But it got me thinking. Back when we were founding the country, bigotry was based mostly on religion. Are you Christian? Are you the right kind (ie, the same as me) of Christian?
Then it was mostly based on color. Are you white? Are you white enough? Were your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents white enough?
Then it was based on gender. That was pretty clear cut: either you were a man, or you weren't. If you weren't, you couldn't vote or hold office, although men were happy to let you work in their factory.
And then bigotry began to experience a revolution. We were still a Christian people, but a secular nation. Religious bigotry, for the most part, bit the dust. Slavery was abolished and after an agonizingly long time and the lifelong efforts of many, racial bigotry has also (for the most part) left the ring.
I won't bother trying to say that gender-discrimination has also disappeared, since it probably hasn't and there are too many people who would disagree with me to make it worth the trouble. But something interesting has happened.
We no longer discriminate (for the most part!) against religion, color, or gender. We discriminate based on victimhood.
Basically, the harder your life is, the more rights you have. Or, if that's too strong for you, think about it like this:
The more you have to whine about, the better off you are. If you lost your parents at a young age, good for you. But if your parents were burned to death by a drunk white arsonist and the judge dismissed the case on 'lack of evidence', feel free to consider that a blank check for the rest of your life. It doesn't matter if there really was no proof, one way or the other. It doesn't matter if your parents had a habit of smoking in bed and the drunk white was able to prove that he didn't arrive until after the fire started. It's obvious to you that it was a deliberate plot, a conspiracy- not against your parents- against you. Everything bad that ever happens to you is because someone out there hates you. Is jealous of your innate better-than-them qualities. (Best not define those qualities- could get sticky.)
Be honest. You've met someone like this. More than one someone like this. Someone who walks around in an aura of victimhood. If you're late, they're a victim. If the rules that apply to everyone deny them something they wanted- which everyone else also wants- they're a victim. Victims believe that because something bad happened to them, they are now owed something. Anything. If they can't get anything else, then they'll settle for respect. If they can't get respect- and who's surprised they can't?- then they're even bigger and better victims.
You won't have to look very hard to find these people. Often, we are them. Every time you get engaged in conversation with someone, and start enumerating all the hideous things that have happened to you today- from stubbing your toe to talking to an irate customer to being at the end of a long line- you're being a victim. It's easy to be a victim. It's a seductive mindset that denies any personal responsibility for your life, your circumstances, and your attitude.
My only comfort as I think about this is my firm belief in the Law of Natural Consequences. Or, in other words, natural selection. I was never able to completely swallow the theory of evolution, but natural selection makes sense to me. If you can't adapt or overcome, you'll die out. Victims are victims because they refuse to overcome and don't do adaption. Which means, sooner or later, individually or as a whole, they will die out. Either as a mindset (I imagine ex-victims blinking in the sunshine and wondering what they've been doing with their lives) or as individuals, this cannot last. Not without consequences.
So remember natural selection. Adapt. Overcome. Don't be a victim. Don't die out.

1 comment:

  1. I applaud the thought you have put into this and your willingness to put it out there, whether or not people agree with you. You don't worry too much about stepping on toes - which can be a good thing. It will certainly keep whiny victims from hanging around you too much - they want sympathy, not a blunt dose of reality! (:

    Mind you, I am not mocking people who genuinely ARE victims. Terrible things can happen to people, and I understand that it can take a huge toll. However, I have known people who relished telling anyone within earshot how awful their life is, and it gets draining to be around. (Everyone has a bad day once in a while - that's expected. Someone who NEVER has a good day, EVER, should be avoided like the swine flu.)

    All this seems to boil down to the saying I love - "Act, not react." Thanks for the reminder. (: