Berating the Victim

Yeah, I get angry at people for being stupid and hurting themselves. No, it’s not because I’m offended by the fact that there are stupid people in the world. I get angry because I care. I get angry because I’m a damn bleeding-heart libertarian, a great big softie who hates, hates to see lives ended or tragically altered. Even people I’ve never met and never will meet.

Maybe I should be cold and careless, or blindly sympathetic. But I can’t. I’m sorry. It hurts me when I senselessly devestated for stupid, avoidable reasons. I hate the fact that humane lives, these marvelously complex universes of thought and dream, are so fragile. I hate the fact that with all the uncontrollable dangers in the world, ready to randomly snuff our lives out in the blink of an eye, we subject ourselves to stupid, avoidable risks. I cannot just accept it as the way of things. I have a vision of humankind as something beyond this frail anthill, always teetering on the edge of oblivion, and I hate that it’s taking us so long to get there.

I care, and I hurt, and anger is one of the ways that I express that. I get angry the same way I get angry with our kids when one of them does something thoughtlessly dangerous like running out into the road. I get angry because I love them and the thought of their being hurt scares me to death. Maybe it’s a male thing, I don’t know. But it may be just what nature intended, because when they hear the anger in my reproach they know, even if the danger itself is abstract in their eyes, how important it is not to do it again. Forgive me if I feel a bit protective of humanity, and show it partly through anger.

I will not stop getting angry about tragedy brought about through thoughtlessness, ignorance, or sheer stupidity. And I will not look everywhere but the victim in placing the blame, either. Unlike other bleeding-hearts I know, I believe that the only chance we have to improve things lies in ourselves and in each other. It’s our responsibility, no one else’s. Mom and dad aren’t going to bail us out when we get ourselves into a jam.

I will not stop calling idiocy when I see it, because to fail to do so would be to abdicate my responsibility. Unlike others, I don’t, can’t, believe that my political philosophy would succeed if only the right people were put into power. For liberty to have a chance a change of attitudes is required. We have to start holding each other to much higher stanards of responsibility and foresight. We have to stop looking at human beings as plankton on the tides of life, at the whim of cruel fate. We have to stop being a society of enablers, and start being the friend who slaps the drunk, takes the bottle away, and says “stop being a dumbass, this shit’s killing you“. This is my philosophy, this is the society I am working towards, and this is the example I intend to set. I will continue to call stupidity wherever I see it.

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  1. I have to assume, based on what I do know of you so far, that in this ideal, it is not just you who is allowed to call a spade a spade.

    When I see someone, no matter how caring or intelligent, who speaks to the “idiocy” of the poor and clearly has no real framework for what poverty is in an in-your-face kind of way, I call them on it. Which is what your presentation of degree of choice displayed. It reminded me of many conversation with upper middle class catholics who claimed there was no need for sex ed in schools because they could NOT grasp the lack of “common” knowledge available in many poverty level ghetto households. You imagine a degree of choice that often doesn’t exist for those families. I am NOT saying they have no choice at all – I am saying the degree of choice, and awareness of those choices, is miles from your depiction.

    Of course the news is devoting itself to the most forlorn people who prepared the least and want the most pity – that is what the news media does after a disaster. They may present a token example here and there for contrast, but mostly they lock the cams on the examples they think will pull the most heartstrings. Most people in highrisk areas of florida are perfectly aware of and reasonably prepared (within their means) to deal with disasters.

    Bonus bit of trivia – when other places experience natural disasters, or even unnatural ones like 9/11 – one of the major states prepared to send immediate support is…. Florida. Which is why a close friend who is a burn nurse was brought up to NY with her whole unit after 9/11. As a state that experiences many disasters, they are better prepared and more experienced in handling victims of disasters in other areas. I look forward to the next time I can visit her in her little, not entirely sturdy house that she bought despite the fraction of a percent chance that a major storm will happen to hit that exact area. I have a much better chance of dying on the freaking beltway. I can only hope if that does happen, you guys won’t sit around saying “god how stupid of her why didnt she move someplace where people aren’t killed in traffic every hour.

    1. I consider the risk of death or serious injury by car wreck that I and most people I know face to be entirely unnacceptable, making it one of the few unresolved areas of constant low-level dissonance in my life. It’s unnacceptable, and yet I have more acceptable solution, taking into account all other considerations. Believe me, I spend an undue amount of time fretting about this. I consider the state of transportation to be one of the greatest failures of modern times. I hope to live to see the day when we all look back and shake our heads at the utter insanity of subjecting ourselves daily to such a great risk, in an age when so many other risks have been mitigated.

  2. Can you handle it when someone who cares about you slaps the shit out of you and tells you to stop killing yourself?

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