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Aspiring to Victimhood

I was having dinner out on the back terrace of a neat little place last evening with a group of folks (of the left, politically) when I broached the subject of victimhood. Here’s how it went down. One person, who works in the HR department of a large company, mentioned that someone had filed a sexual harassment report that day against a guy. Something about jokes about cucumbers being used in unnatural ways.

I couldn’t help it. I said something like: "You know, there was a day when women knew how to defend themselves. It might have been a slap across the face, if warranted, a dismissal, or some come-back alluding to penis size. In other words, in these sorts of non-violent social situations, moms taught daughters how to handle themselves and daughters learned how to take it and to dish it out, when necessary."

"But not anymore. Everybody wants to be a victim. People aspire to victimhood."

Just then, it erupts, group wide:

Well, there are lots of victims.

Everybody is a victim of something.

We’re all victims of big oil and gas prices. They’re stealing from us.

Isn’t it interesting, the philosophical differences of people. Here we have a group of left-leaners, and they sit there in one gigantic pity party actually trying to come up with ways that they and others are victims of something or the other–as if they have to be victims–or their worldview just won’t reconcile.

I mentioned that I cannot recall one instance in my life where I ever considered myself, in any way, to be a victim of anything, for even a fraction of a second. I know I’ve had a few misfortunes, I’ve been wronged a few times by strangers and even some family members, and have even stupidly and irrationally felt sorry for myself at times. But to consciously consider myself a victim, for more that a micro-fraction of a split second? When there is nothing in the world preventing me from actually moving forward with my life regardless?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that there exists genuinely innocent victims, people who’ve been harmed a great deal. And, if their victimization in some way prevents them, long term, from realizing the potential with their lives they otherwise might have been able to attain, then all the worse. Tragic. Imagine someone put in a wheelchair for life by a drunk driver, or something equally grotesque. However, isn’t it that you’re more likely to find that the people who have the most claim to victimhood are the ones least likely to regard themselves as victims? Think of Chris Reeves, and his fight. Think of many others who have risen up in spite of all the rotten evil and misfortune not of their making that has landed upon their shoulders. Regarding one’s self as a victim, even when one has every right to do so, is only self-defeating. It’s a dead end. It gets you no thing and no where.

Perhaps this is why I’m incapable of reasoned dialog with people who maintain a perpetual chip on their shoulders with regard to racial injustice, or those who advocate same. What does this victim status get them? How is it that the sins of the past (true as they are), committed by those of the past give license to individuals of the present to do nothing with their lives? Worse than nothing, really, because in the way society is constructed, do-nothings are generally prevented from perishing by their own lack of attention to their needs. Rather, the rest of us are burdened with them, by force.

And, of course, this burden is justified on the grounds that they are "victims." Vicious circle.

As an aside, my dad and I often poke fun a bit about other members of the family who talk of their medical ailments and limitations as though they were badges of honor. Does anyone get that? Can anyone explain it to me?

Anyway, the conversation then turned more specifically to how we are all getting screwed by the oil companies. I suppose I could do a writeup on just how silly of a notion that is: especially considering that at the end of 2004, gas prices were up to the price of gas in 1950, in inflation-adjusted dollars, having risen there from an all-time low for gas prices in 1998. I could do all that, and more, but it would just bore me too much.

Besides, that’s not really my argument anyway. My argument is that insofar as I don’t own any property that sits over deposits of crude oil, own or lease any oil drilling rigs, tankers, pipelines, refineries, trucks, or retail outlets, then  it’s just not any of my goddamned business. Those who do own some or all the above will generally work out the necessary details in establishing some price for the product they are involved in producing and bringing to market, considering what the competition might be up to, of course. Oh, and don’t forget: they also have to factor in the 30% of local, state and federal taxes tacked on at the retail level. Funny how that’s not stealing. The oil company’s 15% profit: that’s stealing.

My other argument is that my stock in Noble Energy Inc. (NBL), Petroquest Energy Inc. (PQUE), and Southwestern Energy (SWN) are all doing quite well, with two out of the three posting excellent gains yesterday.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

13 Comments

  1. Walter E. Wallis on August 9, 2005 at 15:51

    Those people begrudging good times for the oil companies need to ask how many good years oil had in the last half century. Even today oil is a risky investment because one vote can dump the industry.

  2. cary on August 10, 2005 at 11:51

    You know, that's what I've been observing lately – thanks for putting it into words!

    By the way, came in through BlogExplosion.

  3. Nicole on August 11, 2005 at 00:08

    (Ahh, I figured it out. I'm smart, that way…)

    Repest comment.

    What a thought-provoking post. Well said. Left-leaning as I am in many ways, the "Victimhood" epidemic in this country is a pet peeve of mine.

    Excellent and articulate. Kudos to you!

  4. JollyRoger on August 11, 2005 at 22:20

    I've seen a lot of this victimhood you speak of.

    Perhaps the biggest example I know of is this right leaning guy who sent GIs off to die in a war that he started because the lousy "intelligence" services fed him bad information.

    Another example I know of is this right leaning guy who continuously flouts the ethics regulations of Congress (and quite likely the law as well.) He got "victimized" by a "librul media" and a "librul" Prosecutor in Austin out to get him by exposing what he's done.

  5. Kyle Bennett on August 12, 2005 at 13:21

    JLP,

    I second the recommendation on Covey. It's very good stuff, and you're right, it counters the victim mentality very well.

    After the second time I read it, I realized that he must have been influenced by Rand, though he never mentions either her or her ideas explicitly, and of course, he's very religious. I think he improves on some of her weak points in a few areas, particularly interpersonal relationships. He's done a great job of incorporating some of the more useful religious insights with a fundamentally rational philosophy.

  6. JLP at AllThingsFinancial on August 12, 2005 at 09:53

    You are EXACTLY right! Everybody wants to be a victim! You see, if you are a victim, then you don't have to accept responsibility for your situation.

    EVERYBODY needs to read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," by Stephen Covey.

    I like your blog. Keep up the good work.

    JLP

    PS – I found your blog through BlogExplosion

  7. Deborah on August 14, 2005 at 16:29

    Excellent post.

    I have observed this behavior becoming more prominent over the years. I worked for a government agency and found myself surrounded with lots of folks who seemed to complain about everything. Oddly enough, very few accepted responsibility for their own situation; but there were many victims.

    There were many gripes about unfair job selections, insufficient training, insufficient break and lunch time, etc.
    These gripes were voiced by: people who not only lacked the skills to perform the job opening they coveted, but didn’t even apply for it; people who chose to take time off during training periods, and then there were those who chose not read the required material during classroom training, and expected someone else to research all technical information for them; and then there were the folks who ate and socialized all day long. But they all considered themselves victims.

    I was not a manager, just a peer who noticed this ‘poor me’ attitude, and watched it escalate over the years. There is something to be said for taking responsibility for one’s own actions.

  8. Yzabel on August 15, 2005 at 13:23

    Interesting entry, indeed. After all, it's so much easier to pose ourselves as "victims", because, like JLP posted, it discharges us of any responsibility. I won't pretend that I've never tried to pull this card myself, since in a few circumstances, I did; I've however understood in the meantime that not only was it lame, but that it was also an insult to people who really are victims.

    If we can't get better jobs, are we really victims of "society", or is it just that, well, perhaps we need to send more CVs, instead of sitting on our asses and complaining? And so on. We could whine about all and everything and pretend to be "victims", but the truth is, many, many situations in life could be solved by stopping whining and actually DOING something. Not saying that there's nothing like tough situations, of course–just that at least *trying* can already change a lot of things.

    And yeah, filing for harrasment because of a joke involving cucumbers? Gee. I'd have retorted with something worse, period (weird, how people always feel grossed out and stop as soon as the woman shows them she can make worse jokes!).

  9. jez on August 16, 2005 at 10:50

    what's this obsession with 'left vs right'? if you're confident of your opinions, why do you feel the need to label them and those of others? Do you hold only opinions that can be defined as 'right leaning'? Do you have no opinions of your own?

  10. AMLICAR on August 16, 2005 at 15:54

    My friend,
    With all due respect, the training of all well intentioned 'LEFT LEANING" people teaches them to analyse, assess, and find answers to all questions , because there is a reason for all things.
    Secondly, if you can be aware of 'feeling ' sorry for yourself then my friend you were a victim. The scientific question would have been WHY,…. and everything will flow from there.
    Don't play more wise than you are : Native Americans were victims, Jews were victims, African American Children were victims of closed and segregated schools in the OLD south. Many aspects of the American social, Financial and political systems instinctively still remind non whites of its inherent viciousness to minorities.
    Left is right and Right is wrong….for ALL peoples. Can you dig it!!!!!

  11. shannon on August 17, 2005 at 11:27

    Hmm…many blacks in my experience try to minimize experences that they know are racist to avoid hearing whites whining about how they are victims of having to be polite to people of other races, and most whites think they are oppressed by minorities DESPITE all evidence being against it.

  12. Doug Wolf on August 17, 2005 at 13:16

    Shannon,

    If I take a deep breath, I can just *barely* say aloud your single-sentence post.

    Obviously I need to get some exercise an work on my oxygen intake!

    🙂

    — DW

  13. Doug Wolf on August 17, 2005 at 13:19

    Shannon,

    Seriously this time:

    "most whites think they are oppressed by minorities"

    There are on the order of 300 million causasions in this country. Do you really believe that something on the order of 150 million (which satisfies the definition of "most") white people believe they are oppressed by minorities?

    — DW

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