Many people portray, and think of themselves as principled. Some are, and many who think they are confuse principles with ideology. The latter group are often either claiming victim status, or taking up offenses for those they consider victims.
I don’t get it. Why would anyone want to portray themselves as a victim? Obviously, there’s some kind of payoff. Grievance does have a payoff. For example, I was sorely tempted to go with the Brotherhood of Perpetual Grievance over Sisterhood. Why? I thought if I juxtapose Sisterhood and Grievance, women will come after me for implying that they are more grievance mavens than men. But if I went with brotherhood, then women would complain that I was disrespecting them in the same way as saying mankind instead of humankind or using men as a proxy for all people. Either way, they would score victim points, which is another way of saying “my feelings are important enough to take offense at any slight.”
Are you somehow better, or more deserving or heroic because your ancestor, race, gender, sexual orientation suffered discrimination? The actual sufferers have a real grievance, especially when there was no mechanism of redress, but you? In 2018 in the United States, not only are there ways to redress most grievances, there’s probably more instances of “over correction” than of unaddressed grievances. Discrimination and baseless prejudice will always exist–that’s what human beings do. Nothing stops each human being from deciding to improve their attitude, which will improve their circumstances. Not just the perception of their circumstances, but the actual circumstances.
My great grandparents on both my mother’s and father’s side suffered in Nazi concentration camps. Victor Frankl, an Austrian Jewish psychologist, survived a concentration camp. His famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, tells the story of how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it. He went on to later establish a new school of existential therapy called logotherapy, based in the premise that man’s underlying motivator in life is a “will to meaning,” even in the most difficult of circumstances. Frankl pointed to research indicating a strong relationship between “meaninglessness” and criminal behaviors, addictions and depression. Without meaning, people fill the void with hedonistic pleasures, power, materialism, hatred, boredom, or neurotic obsessions and compulsions. Or in 2018, Grievance.
Can you think of a worse circumstance than a Nazi concentration camp or Russian Gulag? Nobody escapes from such places without significant emotional scars, yet even there, deciding to find a larger purpose or meaning improves the attitude. All such horrible circumstances are operated by people, and every person, no matter how callous, responds more positively to a conciliatory attitude than a condemning attitude. Yes, there are evil people (notice I didn’t say “men”) who create evil circumstances, and sometimes you will find yourself in evil circumstances. When you do, you can find meaning and work for change, or you can be a victim. The latter choice is the state of Perpetual Grievance.