I was intending to write an article about men's rights and how men are treated unfairly in our society. The more I read and thought about this topic, however, the more I was reminded that everyone feels victimized. Women feel victimized by men. Men feel victimized by women. Children feel victimized by their parents. Parents feel victimized by their children. Employees feel victimized by their employers. Employers feel victimized by their employees. Blacks feel victimized by whites. Whites feel victimized by blacks. And, the list goes on. I felt victimized when I was a teenager, because I was living in what I thought was a world of extroverts who wanted to force me to be just like them. The truth is that the feelings that each group have are not without justification. We do victimize each other from time to time--in little ways and in big ways.
My girlfriend, who is a Mormon and something of a pragmatic feminist, mentioned to me some months ago that she had come to a realization. She realized that men are not responsible for the dress standards in the Mormon church that some Mormon women find annoying. Women are. Older women criticize younger women for dressing in ways that they think are immodest. I think this realization was something of a shock to my girlfriend. But, I don't think it occurred to her to wonder why some of the older women do this. It was enough for her to realize that it happens. Older women, without real understanding of what they are doing, pass along more than just dress standards. They are often partially responsible for some younger women's feelings of worthlessness. Men frequently do the same to boys, also without understanding the effect they are having.
As an adult man, I look back at the advice given to me as a boy by the men who were around when I was growing up, and it seems to me that the men giving the most advice may have been the least qualified to give it. Now, I realize poor advice given to boys is often the cause of so much of their difficulty in living their lives as adult men. Occasionally, I hear about things that adult women tell girls and think the same thing. Boys and girls often believe the stupid things they are told by adults. When they grow up, along with everything else, they pass along those stupid beliefs to the younger generation. Thus, the stupidity is perpetuated from generation to generation. Most people tend to accept the dominant ideas of the culture in which they live and pass them along with little or no thought. I could give examples, but I think it would be fruitless to point out the stupid things that are widely believed in our particular culture. It's easier to see the stupidities in other cultures.
Thanks in part to all the stupid ideas passed along from generation to generation, we often victimize each other without even realizing what we're doing. Employers feel they have a right to make unreasonable demands on their employees. Husbands feel they have a right to make unreasonable demands on their wives, and vice versa. Parents treat their children disrespectfully, and children do the same to their parents.
Each of us develops strategies for dealing with victimization. Some of us withdraw. Harry Browne wrote a book called How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. If I could summarize the thesis of his book in a single sentence it would be this: Do your own thing; live your own life according to your own morals and stop trying to solve other people's problems and deal with their issues. Of course, he violated that philosophy by writing a book telling others how to live their lives and deal with their issues.
Some of us try to rally others to our causes. Jesus Christ dedicated the last three years of his life to teaching his fellow Jews how to "save" the world, and they killed him for it. Although he did influence many people, the problems are still around. Two thousand years later, we're still victimizing each other.
For years, I've been seeing more and more evidence that the world's problems are not solvable by the world. Perhaps it has something to do with the words attributed to Albert Einstein, something to the effect that problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them. I've been gradually coming to think that in a world that does not recognize wisdom when it hears it, not everyone can be saved. Individuals can choose to make things better in their immediate spheres of influence, but the world cannot be "fixed" in any real way. I've begun to think that salvation in any sense of the word, if it happens at all, is a gradual process of enlightenment that occurs bit-by-bit in each individual over a lifetime. Salvation is something for which each individual must intentionally strive by recognizing and rejecting the stupid beliefs he has been taught by society and its churches and replacing them with enlightened beliefs.
Perhaps these thoughts have led to my increasing feelings of weariness when I hear or think of all the problems of all the people around me. Or, maybe it's the other way around. Perhaps I've developed this belief as a result of my weariness. Life has been compared to a long-distance race. I imagine wisdom would dictate pacing oneself appropriately for a strong finish.
I could suggest solutions, but most people don't listen, and if they do listen, they often don't understand. If they listen, it seems they are just as likely to listen to poor advice as to good advice, because they are unable to tell the difference between the two. People give each other a lot of bad advice that only adds more problems to the pile of problems they already have. Perhaps this is the reason for a comment I heard in an online forum recently that the best posts were being downgraded the most.
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