Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Victims of the Victim Mentality

"How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened."
                                                -Thomas Jefferson
Sometimes we tend to overstate the severity of our problems, even to the extent of subconsciously or consciously picturing our lives as tragedies. When I was 12, I had a friend of the same age who would exclaim,"I'm done for!" at the slightest blunder or inconvenient turn of events. Now, it would indeed be a sad thing to conclude your life as over at but the tender age of 12. But was it really over?

From time to time, we could benefit from a little perspective. Each individual on this planet is but a small entity of existence among the vast humanity, stricken as it is with hunger, nuclear threats, disasters—natural and man-made, among other crises. In face of these numerous calamities endured by Mankind as a whole, of what worth are our individual setbacks?

Even when judged on their own merits, some of the so-called crises we claim to experience do not qualify as crises at all. Just the other day, someone I knew got into a fluster over a tiny task she was supposed to complete by that day, but had not been done as she had confused the day after with that day.

"Oh, this is devastating!" she moaned.
"No, it's not. There are still four more hours to the end of the day, more than enough for your speed," I stated. "Don't brandish the word 'devastating' around so freely."

Sure enough, she went on to finish off everything within 30 minutes, just one-eighth of the time available. Where was the "devastating" part to be found?

Let us also revisit my 12-year-old friend mentioned earlier. How could one be "done for" when she had just stepped into her adolescence, with a whole stretch of opportunities and possibilities lying ahead in the long road of an adventure called Life? Let alone merely due to a late appointment or a minor misunderstanding with a friend?

At times, our tragedies, crises and sufferings are not so much tragedies, crises and sufferings in themselves, than tragedies, crises and sufferings in that we choose to perceive them as so. To quote the words of author and national speaker Donald Asher, "Strife is when your mom dies in your arms from a horrific and excruciatingly painful disease (...) Strife is when you are so poor that you can't afford to buy postage stamps, much less something so expensive as food. Strife is when you grow up in an active war zone where attending school is an act of insane bravery. That's strife."

This is not to say that all our personal problems are mundane and not of any importance. Many of them may actually be legitimate concerns indeed. The point though, is not to wave them off or put them to neglect, but to solve them with an upbeat attitude—treating them as simply questions to resolve or better still, challenges to relish and triumph over, rather than miseries that life inundates you with, which brings us to yet another quotation:

"Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance."

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