Victims and Victimhood

A NYT essay by Arthur C. Brooks made a distinction between being a victim and what he calls the culture of victimhood, meaning anyone being slighted or hurt by others or the system feeling victimized whether or not in his eyes it was deserved. He sees the practice as being so frequent and prevalent and as not having much merit. As much as I find the concept evocative, I am not sure about the examples he cites, for example those of students feeling hurt by the use of micro-aggression. I am sure there are exaggerations, no one is perfect, but micro-aggression which I have heard and seen is a real issue, and even if one makes a distinction between a racial slur and violent rape, being the object of aggression micro or not makes one a victim. Fact remains that regardless of his examples, making a difference between victims and victimhood is a valid point. As a culture we don’t accept the risks of living with imperfect people in an imperfect world, and it is one of the reasons behind many lawsuits. I read recently that the surviving wife of someone killed during the San Bernardino massacre last December has filed a $58 million lawsuit against a variety of agencies accusing them of negligence. It may be she has a valid case, I do not after all know the particulars, but on the face of it does seem to fit within the cultural phenomenon. Indeed as described, the culture of victimhood is not conducive to the kind of world we would prefer to live in. But pop culture has given us the concept of the warrior and millennia of spiritual practice have given us the concept of forgiveness. While victimhood invites self-pity, being a warrior or exercising forgiveness calls forth our better selves. One way to combat the idea of victimhood besides avoiding this kind of behavior ourselves, is to be vocal whenever we encounter any aspects of it and similarly reinforce being warriors and forgiving.