United Victims of America

Yesterday I was reminded of something I noticed about our society quite some time ago.  George Takei had posted an article of comics depicting sexism that's thrust upon boys.  I agree.  I have 3 boys and I see how they are pressured to fit into this macho mold.  That's not what I want to talk about though... that moment closed the circle for me.

We started bringing light to how society belittles, stereotypes, bullies, misunderstands, mistreats, and undervalues people a long time ago.  It really kicked in with the civil rights movement and feminism in the 60's.  Our downtrodden members fought for the understanding and compassion they deserved by sharing their stories, with the intent to draw out our empathy.  It worked beautifully, but I feel it created a dangerous side-effect.  We became a nation obsessed with victim-hood.  Suffering became the barometer by which we measured the value of a person's opinion or worth.  If you haven't suffered, we're not listening to you... if you haven't suffered enough, we're not listening to you.  You see evidence for it when we tell someone "you don't understand you never had --- happen"... and while that may be true, humans are capable of empathy.  I felt it in the military community among those left behind and those coming back.  Wives competed for who had the worst stories (most kids, worst assignment, longest time), who won the prize for enduring the most suffering.  Guys coming back, sharing where they were and for how long to see whose war was the worst.  It's a game we all play, comparing suffering, and if you think about that it's really messed up to want to be the one to win that competition.

Victim worship is creating a very dangerous environment for our children.  Victims are becoming the bullies now.  Empathy and compassion have to be won through suffering.  Value is measured in hardship.  If we keep telling our kids that we only listen to victims, they're going to become victims.  The majority of school shooters are middle-class white males, the ones our society has deemed to "have it all"... obviously they're missing something.  You don't choose your race or your parents' income.  We also show our kids through the news media that only crime and despair deserve recognition.  My facebook newsfeed is packed with "understand me" articles that point out how everything we say is taken as an insult by some group or another.  A blog I used to love started this "domestic enemies" series to help inform, but it became a competition over who has it worse.  We need to prove we suffer more because that's our societal worth, and it has gotten to the point that we overreact to everything so we can become victims.  We want to be victims!  Subtle and constant, these messages effect us.

I wrote "Wounded" about myself, but this is an epidemic.  People join groups dedicated to their pain and suffering and it defines who they are: rape victim, alcoholic, pain victim, death of a family member, PTSD sufferer, overeater.  I think the support and love of these groups is important, but some are missing the point.  It's supposed to be a place you go for guidance on how to heal, not where you go to stay sick.  I used to feel guilty for not being made to suffer more.  I used to want to break my arm so I could have a cast (and the attention of others).  That's so messed up!  But, that's our message.  We haven't created an environment that encourages health yet.  We are still diagnosing the problems.  I get it.  I see it, and I understand it.  So, now that I've seen the complaints of the men getting bullied, which was the original "audience" to begin with, maybe we're going to start valuing health instead of wounds.  The underlying message the victims are shouting is that no one person is like another.  We shouldn't be grouped with another just because you sense a pattern.  We should stop assuming knowledge about people based on appearance or class (sociology is not helping us)... that's the message.  Message received?  We have now established that EVERYONE is a victim at times.  Everybody suffers.

We can heal or keep picking our scabs off to reopen the wounds.  It's up to us.  Remember: we don't ask a therapist to tell us all about their lives to prove they're worthy of helping us through their own personal suffering.  Insight doesn't only come from pain.  How do we encourage a society full of victims to start healing themselves?  Turn the conversation inward to self-love and forgiveness, not outward towards anger and blame.  Take ownership of the present, regardless of who made the mess, and make the decision to clean it up.  It's already happening!  Let's keep it going.
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