Let’s get something out of the way.

You are not a victim.

And yet, we are all victimized. A random mugger decides to nominate you one drunken, though innocent, stumble home; your spouse cheats on you and then you’re forced to pay them alimony; the police pull you over because you’re black. Yes, we have a flair for dramatic examples here. Bottom line: all sorts of things, from the absolutely horrible to the mundanely irritating, can befall a member of the human species at any time. If you make it through life long enough you will be victimized somehow. There may be many times in a life when the dictionary definition of the word victim fits your situation perfectly.

And yet, you are not a victim.

This is more about your mind than objective reality. It is more about how you feel than the flesh and blood of the thing. This is about stoicism. This is about how you react to all of the misfortunes and injurious agencies that befall you during your life.

In the human animal philosophy, the way you view yourself is thought to physically manifest itself in ways that can be both helpful and harmful to you as a creature. Viewing yourself as a victim of malignant circumstance, battered by all of life’s bullshit, is about the worst thing for your psychological wellbeing, because it takes all of the onus off of you to fix things.  You may have been victimized, but that isn’t who you are, and is never the way you should define yourself. All of that mental energy is needed to fight against the problem, jump over the hurdles, and improve the state of the world which made you feel a victim in the first place.

The fall into default victim-hood in western culture is truly one of the most sickening aspects of modern life. Politicians parrot the 77 cents on a dollar “wage gap” freely despite the fact that according to their own census bureau of statistics, unmarried women actually earn more than their male counterparts, and that the gap is mostly explained by personal choices (equality of opportunity, not opportunity of outcome).  Not to mention that anyone with the most basic grasp of economics would understand that every major company would be hiring exclusively women if they could cut down on labor costs by nearly a fourth.

But the 77 cents myth remains a commonly held belief because it takes the pressure off of the individual and allows their victim-hood to become an excuse. I am not saying women are never discriminated against, but the need to cite demonstrably false statistics in order to further a sense of weakness, vulnerability, and pity is not empowering women. It is doing the exact opposite. In fact, the conspiratorial side of me would argue that politicians have used such misleading statistics to actively divide the genders and foster a sense of weakness in half of the population, creating an artificial dependence on the government to “fix the problem”, who have meanwhile been parroting the same statistic without any change for years.

And before you think I’m focusing unfairly on women, men are just as guilty of this kind of thinking. It is not gender specific.

The natural reaction of a man who can’t get a date is often bitterness and misogyny. Why not? It couldn’t be that the problem lies inside himself. It couldn’t possibly be that self-mastery and discipline have been lacking in his life and the results are apparent to all who see him? Much easier to imagine that the fault lies with the women who aren’t choosing to give him the love and affection he deserves. Once again, by eschewing personal responsibility for his life and defaulting to victim-hood status, he can take the easy way out and forgo the very difficult task of realizing his flaws and working on them. There is a whole generation of young men who feel they have been wronged by the world. I would argue that this is, in large part, responsible for a lot of the disturbing gun violence we have seen in recent years. By viewing themselves as a victim for so long, these young men feel justified in lashing out violently, rather than realizing that they alone are responsible for their lives, which would encourage them to turn inward and take a hard look at just who they are.

The short man gets no love by complaining and railing against the fates that made him short. A fat person who blames genetics is never going to get off of the couch. A bitter old man who has been beaten down by life is much more likely to give up and swallow a gun barrel than to keep striving to better his situation. Victim-hood does you no good. It doesn’t matter how much shit life throws at you, it is your responsibility to mold that shit into the best thing you can. It is a harder road to be sure, but it leads to better places.

This is not to advise that we ignore the people or systems that victimize us. Seeking to change and better the world is a noble pursuit. I would say that those who actively pursue equality through their personal choices are the ones who are already refusing to be the victim. Worried about the pay gap? Go into a high paying field. What is stopping you? Feel like being short has given you a disadvantage in life? Focus on improving other aspects about yourself that you can have some control over. By all means, don’t sit and complain on the internet about how victimized you are. You are doing irrevocable damage to your psychology when you throw your hands up in the air, declare yourself a victim, and stop working towards improving your situation.

And be constantly be on your guard against people who would tell you that you are a victim. They may have a vested interest in recruiting you into their victim army, in making you pliable and gooey, susceptible to their ideology which they will claim as a sort of panacea to your victim-hood. Most importantly, guard against your own inner thoughts that will often seek the warm blanket of victim-hood – the easy way out. Improving things, being active about your problems, overcoming discrimination and raising your station in life is the hardest thing to do, but it is also the right thing, the thing you deserve for yourself.

Remember, no matter what happens, or what people try to convince you of: you are not a victim.

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