In my last entry, I discussed victimhood and the culture growing around that. Pain is a shared experience, it is one of the things that all humans everywhere face. Most wish to avoid it, however more and more American culture appears to be embracing it, placing people into categories based on historical and emotional pain groups. A writer’s job is to pay attention to the world.
As stated in the previous blog. I completely understand that there is hurt that I don’t understand and can never understand, and at the same time I’ve faced things that others will not understand. That is the truth of being human. Pain is pain. Yes, some of it is more traumatic than others, such as seeing combat or being assaulted, but claiming that as an identifying feature accomplishes nothing.
There is a recent study that says teens are creating fake social media accounts to “bully” themselves. Is this how much we prize victimhood? Have we ended up creating an environment that favors those who define themselves solely by their pain that this has become a reality? Life is short, and as we argue about who hurts more and what pain is more legitimate, feeling sorry for ourselves, our life is passing by.
As I watch this unfold, I cannot help but feel like this is something that would be considered unbelievable if it was in a fictional book. Especially the part where teens bully themselves to get attention. If that was in a book I was reading, it would feel campy and forced. Yet this is the reality of the world we live in.
I’ve said before that a big part of writing is observing the behavior of people. This observation enables authors to be guided toward more realistic characters. One observation that has become very apparent in recent years is hurt. So many people appear to be defined by the past and the pain that was inflicted upon them.
We are emotional, sensitive beings, even people who care very little for others are still sensitive, particularly when it comes to their own feelings. I do not pretend to know about every type of pain and how to overcome it. I do not know what it is like to be a veteran with PTSD or to give birth to a child. I have not felt the pain of going days without food, or the hurt of being divorced. One thing I am certain of, if you are human you have been hurt.
Pain is as much of the human experience as pleasure. We have all felt it, and not only have we all felt it, we have our own personalized version of it. I know from my own experiences that there are things nearly impossible to get past. My wife too has endured pain and suffering few know about, and she has shown such a level of grace that it seems inhuman to me.
We each know pain, but not all of us are familiar with the same type of pain that may plague another person. That being said, no pain is too great to overcome. Yes, there are hurts that are beyond what humans were ever meant to endure. I do acknowledge that, but at what point do we become stuck and defined by our pain? There seems to be so many people that this scenario applies to. This is seen heavily in identity politics, groups of all shapes and sizes coming out of the woodwork screaming “What about me?! I have been wronged!” Yes, yes you have been. You know what? So have the people you think are against you.
If we identify ourselves only by pain and gather with those who shared similar hurt, then how can we grow? If we continually shout, “what about me?” when someone voices a concern. If we utilize a person’s race, religion, philosophy, or nationality to say they do not understand pain, what are we accomplishing? Nothing, nothing but more hurt and more division. There is no glory in victimhood, and ultimately it will lead to shallowness and loneliness. If we think our pain to be so great that we can in turn shout down someone else then that reflects more on us than anyone else, even if our pain is legitimate.