On Victimhood.

Recently, I’ve seen a great number of posts on social media and stories on the news referencing the inevitability of everyone, eventually, being a victim. “Life makes victims of us all”, and so forth.

While I recognize the poetry and even the comfort some can take from such sentiments, I personally see this as a self-perpetuating and potentially very dangerous point of view.

In today’s world, most of us have been trained from earliest youth that our happiness and our successes aren’t really up to us; everything from heartbreak to asshole bosses to tornadoes tosses our fates about like a rowboat in a heavy sea, negating our every effort to decide our own paths.

Yes, bad things happen to good people. I get that. That doesn’t make the people to whom they happen “victims”. Your status as a victim is dictated solely by your reaction to the circumstances around you.

I hold up as an example the devastation from hurricane Katrina in 2005; Television was very eager and accommodating in showing us endless footage of victims. People rendered homeless with their every possession swept away or destroyed, lives lost or forever changed by the vagaries of the weather (and a horribly designed infrastructure). But we also saw a great many people in those same straights who didn’t and never would identify themselves as victims. These were people, citizens of the area who had lost every bit as much as anyone else, but rather than allowing themselves to become victims they instead reached out to their community and gave their all to help their neighbors. Where some huddled under their blankets awaiting food, others refused to lie down and spent their time and effort feeding, comforting, and reaching out in any way they could. They suffered identical losses, but were never victims.

We all know many people for whom life is a never-ending series of victimizations. People who go through life with a constant “why is it always me?” on their lips. Their first sound in the morning is a pitiable groan and their last thought at night is “and I have to go through it all again tomorrow”. These people feel themselves caught in an inescapable loop of angst and self-propagating personal disaster, without ever realizing their own role in creating the situation, nor their power to reverse it. And all it takes is ownership. Owning your own situation, even though you may not understand how you put yourself here, just accept, I mean truly accept your role in landing yourself wherever you are. “I am unemployed (or whatever) and I accept responsibility for creating and correcting this situation.” No, it doesn’t guarantee you a job offer within the next three days, but it helps to break the cycle; it helps you to stop seeing your fate as tied to some great universe-wide plot against you. It is that perspective, that “why is it always me?” thought habit which prevents you from breaking the cycle. When you do finally break through, you realize that NO ONE, other than you yourself, is responsible for your happiness or success or sense of fulfillment.   Many, many people with problems and misery in their lives that you and I can barely imagine are still among the happiest, most open and kindest people you could ever hope to meet. What is their Great Secret? It’s not so secret, but it is truly great knowledge, and it’s the easiest, most difficult thing you’ll ever try: BE HAPPY.. Just be happy. Do not expect or wait for anyone or anything to make you happy. That’s your job, so just allow happiness into your life. Smile at strangers. Laugh at stupid jokes. Fart in a movie theater. Embrace and propagate joy at every opportunity.

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