The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fish and Ponds

In a "discussion" somewhere, a number of years ago, my opposite asked me why I thought people would want to be victimized? I replied with these questions: why do abused women so often return to their abusers? Why do criminals come out of prison only to repeat the acts which first landed them there? In other words, I had no answer. I still do not.

Over the years, however, I have come to believe that some people wish to be victims. Apparently, I am not alone in that belief. The other day, I came across this. Many years ago, this was a fairly common belief... Why did the young person attempt (successfully or not) suicide? "It was a cry for help," said the psychologists and psychiatrists. Why did little Johnny act out as he often did? "Merely a way of getting the attention he desired and needed," they said.

Maybe. Maybe not. A number of years ago, I went on a cruise in the Caribbean with some friends.  To be honest, I had only known one of them before the trip: a long time friend of Faye's. She, and all the others in our group, are African-American. Nice people, all firmly middle class, all solidly around my age (approaching 50 at the time). We talked about a number of things over the week we were on that ship.

One of the things that came up, and which we disagreed on, was the idea that a black person must work "twice as hard" as his white peers to reap the same rewards. I offered two observations: that it would be impossible to work twice as hard as someone else and that giving a child that advice (which is how it came up in conversation... as advice to a child) could hurt him or her.

How could that hurt a child, you ask? By inculcating defeatism in him or her. If you take a child and repeatedly tell them they have no chance unless they are clearly superior in whatever it is they do, how will that child react emotionally? As I grew up, the common belief that encouraging children was the "best way" to raise them began to be accepted. This has led to strong efforts to build self-esteem. Which has, in turn, led to efforts to reduce competition because competition means "winners" and "losers" and the "losers" will clearly outnumber the "winners." Losing hurts self-esteem, this line of reasoning says, and creates a dysfunction in the child.

I am a competitive person. I dislike (intensely) losing. I dislike failing at something. This is a big problem for me because I am not athletic, not talented, and just bright enough to to be almost outstanding but not enough to excel. And, of course, I am lazy so I do not want to work hard to improve myself. So, over the years, I found a niche for myself... I would seek out "small ponds" in which I could be a "big fish."

I believe I am not alone in this. Not that everyone (or even most) wants to be a "big fish in a small pond" but that we seek that kind of comfort level. There is an old saw that goes, "the cream rises to the top." Which, to me, sounded like... "if you have 'it', you will excel, if you don't you won't... no matter how hard you try." In other, simpler, words, trying to be what you aren't ultimately leads to failure.

It's untrue, of course, I see that now. Isn't it?

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