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.