Call 911: Special Victims Unit Meets Tough Nuts

I can be unkind and cynical. That’s a fact. I can literally tear into people I perceive to be mentally weaker than I am. As my husband once said (about a week ago, I think, and I won’t get the quote quite right)–what was it? He likened my way of training/correcting others to verbally jabbing people in the eye with a carrot and whacking them with sticks. Or something. Ultimately, I’m an absurdist. If somebody else doesn’t spot the absurdity, I’m going to do it. Sometimes, I recognize that my favorite pastimes are an indication of mixed-up priorities. Most of the time, I’m perfectly content to keep my priorities as contrary as possible. With all that out of the way, I must apologize for my gut reaction of cynicism to what I call the Special Victims Unit.

If you are part of this unit, you won’t recognize it, so don’t worry about being offended. Okay, you might. But if you do, you’ll go on the defense because that’s what special victims do. They defend their precious right to be offended by everything because You don’t know me! You don’t know my life! How dare you judge me?! A long time ago, I made a joke of this in my About Page, though there were probably those out there who assumed this was a serious sentiment. After all, it makes sense with this–if not real-world–internet mentality.

Now my apology seems a little misplaced, I suppose, because I’ve allowed myself to revel in yet more cynicism and mockery. As I said, I probably have mixed-up priorities. In addition, I have a very base default position of annoyance at the world. Moving on from there, I’m going to explain why the readiness to be offended and feel especially victimized irritates me–as well as why the binary opposition position of “toughen up” also grates. As an example of the opposing position, read this: Why My Kids Are Not Center of My World. It happens to be a blog post from a blog I’d never read before this article was the “Share of the Day” on Facebook. Okay, so if you don’t want to read it, it’s basically about raising children so that they don’t grow up with feelings of entitlement, or of being special victims of bullying. It’s a sort of “tough love” method of child rearing, which, on the face of it, doesn’t sound all that bad. And it isn’t. Children do, indeed need to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them so that they don’t grow up to be special victims and, hence, join the Special Victims Unit.

So, what is my problem, anyway? My problem with both positions is that they tend to squelch the imaginative thinking involved in sympathy. When people are wrapped up in being special victims, they believe that nobody understands what it’s like to go through what they’ve been through. How do I know they believe this? They say so; that’s why. See what happens when you pass judgment on a special victim. They insist upon the uniqueness of their suffering as an essential truth. However, this imaginative thinking is the opposite of the sympathetic imagination. Solipsism is inherent to human nature. Even our imaginations are tainted by it. We view the world through a lens of our own experiences, and this tendency should teach us that suffering is tantamount to being human.

Conversely, when people are wrapped up in being tough and no-nonsense in their relationships with others, they also miss the boat of sympathetic imaginings. They are, perhaps, even tougher nuts to crack than the Special Victims because they don’t necessarily retreat for introspective examinations of self. Introspective types, even introspective Special Victims, will often work through their issues and then reenter the world at large and become sympathetic toward others. But what of those who insist that navel-gazing is nonsense, who never examine themselves–as even the philosophers suggest doing? Plato asked, “Why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?” Really, why don’t we? Why are people who are tough nuts so hard to crack? Perhaps, they come at sympathy from a different angle. Perhaps, they don’t always allow for imaginative leaps, but simply do what they perceive to be right from a rational or practical perspective, which very well might appear to be sympathy from the outside.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I’m exhausted. The screen is blurring in front of my eyes, and yet, here I am, typing. I hope you have some sympathy for my harsh words and my incoherent, half-asleep rambling. A long time ago, in the late 18th C, there was a movement called the Cult of Sensibility. Sensibility, in a simplistic sense, was an imaginative projection of sympathy toward humans as individuals. It involved the wonder of nature shaping the imagination–in other words, it was outwardly projected. But it was also contemplative. It had its excesses, as all human movements will, but I find myself longing for a life-changing philosophy, the kind that leads to right action both because it’s rational AND because we’ve learned to understand other human beings as well as ourselves.

But the understanding–the sympathetic imagination–that is, as far as I’m concerned, the basis for the Golden Rule, is often absent in our world. Jesus assumed humans were self-loving solipsists. That’s why he taught us to use our experience-based knowledge to treat others well: Do unto others as you would have others do to you.. Now it’s time to cue the ending song and dance: “If you find yourself a Tough Nut, in a rut…you know what to do! If you find yourself a Victim, but your wounds, you’ve already lick’t em…you know what to do!”

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14 comments

  1. He was always going off by himself, couldn’t rely on anyone, nobody understood him or knew who he was, until finally he got killed unjustly, which didn’t surprise him.

  2. It’s funny because the one true special victim loved the world and the billion fake special victims hate the world. It’s a funny irony, see? Maybe it’s not funny.

  3. He’s the one human who really had cause to hate the world, but he loved it the most. It’s the exact opposite if what you’d expect. I find that humorous.

  4. I like austere humor lately. Maybe because I’m trapped on the northern plains.

    “Dark spruce forst frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness—a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.”

    Except there’s no spruce forest here.

    1. This is quite apropos, really. The idealist is generally mocked by nature/truth/physical reality. Of course, nature is unforgiving. Thankfully, people have the capacity to be forgiving, even if they choose not to be.

  5. “Of course, nature is unforgiving. Thankfully, people have the capacity to be forgiving, even if they choose not to be.”

    Yeah, that’s the original irony made plain by Christ. They also have the capacity to do penance, even if they choose not to.

    Re: Skeleton Horse
    I just think it’s funny, but who knows why we do what we do? It’s from a movie:

    “It’s because it’s what you love, Ricky. It is who you were born to be. And here you sit. Thinking. Well, Ricky Bobby is not a thinker. Ricky Bobby is a driver. He is a doer, and that’s what you need to do. You don’t need to think. You need to drive. You need speed. You need to go out there, and you need to rev your engine. You need to fire it up. You need to grab ahold of that line between speed and chaos, and you need to wrestle it to the ground like a demon cobra. And then, when the fear rises up in your belly, you use it. And you know that fear is powerful, because it has been there for billions of years. And it is good. And you use it. And you ride it; you ride it like a skeleton horse through the gates of hell, and then you win, Ricky. You WIN! And you don’t win for anybody else. You win for you, you know why? Because a man takes what he wants. He takes it all. And you’re a man, aren’t you? Aren’t you?”

    1. I have not seen that particular Will Ferrell film. His movies are hit and miss for me–love them, or hate them.

      As far as “who knows why we do what we do,” I guess I can understand why people use internet monikers. I used to have one (only one) before I decided I wanted to try to traditionally publish. I used my real name from then on. I can understand desiring privacy; I simply don’t understand the need to deceive others, as many do when they use different monikers everywhere.

  6. I usually like about half the jokes in any given Will Ferrell film. He jumped the shark circa 2004.

    You’ve only used one Internet pseudonym? You’re probably unusual in that regard. What was it? In the Internet Age when you type something in conversation it’s potentially recorded for the rest of your life, and that makes people nervous. There would probably be a lot less trolling though if everyone had to use his real name.

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