Everybody wants to be a victim. It pays psychologically, in our culture, to be a victim. But why? What value or virtue is there in being a victim?
Sometimes we admire people who really ARE victims in what they overcame. And that’s indeed a valuable, admirable and even a beautiful thing. But it’s the OVERCOMING that’s the value here. We didn’t look at survivors of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps and say, “Wow. That’s great. You were in a concentration camp”. We said, “You survived it. You lived to tell the tale. And you tell us what you learned”. Those things are valuable — although you surely don’t need such horrendous suffering in order to learn, grow and prove your worth.
Suffering is not the purpose of life. Happiness is.
America, despite all its issues, is — at this point in time — the most prosperous, comfortable and even rational place to be living in all of human history. Do YOU want to be living in any other place or time? I doubt it. Yet somehow suffering is now the standard of value. It makes no sense. Achievement ought to be the standard of value. Survival and overcoming are values.
People create crises and disasters — or exaggerate them — in order to prove they’re suffering. As if suffering is the only way to prove your worth. It makes no sense!
People lie about being victims when they’re not. They fabricate stories about being victims of racial slurs or “hate crimes” that never took place. Jussie Smollett comes to mind as one of the more grotesque examples.
Why can’t they focus on achievements? I don’t condone lying about achievements. But I can see the temptation. Achievement is a good thing. But what in the world tempts people to lie about having been a victim? Being a victim is a horrible thing. It’s not a shameful thing. If you’re truly a victim, something shameful was done to you. The shame is with the victimizer. But how did being a victim become such a point of pride?
Something is deeply wrong in the thinking of millions of people for victimhood to have become such a dominant theme — and implicit virtue — in our culture.
I suspect it all stems from the false belief that sacrifice is virtue. The degree to which you sacrifice, the thinking goes, you’re supposedly a good person. Victimization is the currency or proof of your sacrifice.
But sacrifice is NOT a virtue. Suffering is not a virtue. Yes, suffering is sometimes the price you pay for virtue or achievement. But actual virtue — integrity, honesty, competence — is the REAL thing to shoot for. At most, misery is an unfortunate side-effect that it’s admirable to overcome.
Our civilization has never been more prosperous and full of opportunity. Yet most agree we seem to be spiraling toward some sort of unthinkable disaster. The problem is in our minds. Our minds contain ideas — often toxic, irrational ones. We have to fix ourselves INTERNALLY. Medicare for all won’t fix us. Free college won’t, either. Rational thinking will.
—Michael J . Hurd