Spider-Man was wrong.
Well, his uncle was, anyway. The maxim “With great power comes great responsibility” isn’t exactly correct. Rather, the reverse is accurate: With personal responsibility comes greatness and personal power.
Now, while you ponder that thought for a moment, let me add one more note so you know where I’m coming from. Normally I wouldn’t make mention of this, but it’s relevant to this particular topic of personal responsibility.
First off, I’m transgendered; more so than that, I’m also Lithuanian, female, bisexual, and, interestingly enough, legally blind without my glasses since I have less than one-tenth of what’s deemed to be “normal” vision.
Why does this matter? Here’s the catch: it doesn’t. None of it does. And that’s what our topic is today: the death of the Oppression Olympics and the reclamation of personal responsibility.
Oppression and the Disadvantaged
So, you’re oppressed. You’re disadvantaged. You were dealt a shitty hand. A bad roll of the dice on your character sheet for reality. The whole world has it out for you, and it just isn’t fair that other people have it so much easier than you.
Guess what? That goes for almost everyone on the planet. Most people aren’t born into the lap of luxury. Most of us have had to scrounge from scraps in some way, shape, or form.
Here’s the big secret, though: Shit happens, and while some people cry about it, others go out and do something to change their fate by taking a direct hand in what happens to them.
The victim narrative fucked me over for many years, as it did for many others. I was afraid to do anything to try to change my position in life. I was crippled with the mindset that stuff simply happened to me and there was nothing I could do about it. This victim mentality prevented me, like it does most people, from ever getting up off my ass.
Such is the narrative that the wide range of social justice warriors have created—one in which those of us who are disadvantaged in some way, shape, or form are considered to be incapable of bettering our position in life and therefore we should just give up.
Let’s look at an example, shall we?
Let’s say I leave my car parked in front of Walmart, with the front doors unlocked, the driver door hanging wide open, the key in the ignition, and the car running. I leave it there for two hours, completely unattended, and when I step back out … lo and behold, my car has been stolen.
Wow, I sure didn’t see that one coming, did you?
Now wait a moment. Before you tell me that I should’ve locked my car or at least closed the door, might I point out that that’s victim-blaming? Why, even suggesting that I could’ve had any hand at all in preventing my car from getting stolen is victim-blaming.
Yes, this is the narrative that’s been spun and thrown around as if it means something, from those who are disadvantaged to those who have been raped.
Rather than point out that the vast majority of people didn’t steal my car, or that there were some simple precautions I could’ve taken to severely lower the chances, the social justice warriors rush to my aid and tell me there’s nothing I could’ve done, that the person who stole my car is 100% to blame, and anyone who tries to help me lead a normal life rather than one of fear and terror from that point on is victim blaming.
The way to “empower” someone is to give them the tools to better their position in life. You don’t live their life for them, you don’t carry them, you don’t try to lower the standards or knock down everyone else around them. That’s not what makes our lives better. What makes our lives better is, strangely enough, actually improving our lives by degrees over time and interspersing with noticeable increases that stand out compared with where we currently are.
A new job. A raise. A promotion. A better house. A better car. The details are irrelevant as to what’s better—just that it’s something significant enough to be “better” than where we were the day, the week, the month, the year, or the decade before. Some way to show progress.
The thing is, so long as someone is told they can never improve their position in life, they’re not going to garner these things. Telling a rape victim they could do nothing to prevent it only artificially extends the feeling of helplessness, stringing it out much longer than it needs to be. Letting them know that they can do something to prevent it from happening again, or at least limiting the chances of it, puts them in a better position than they were in previously.
This also means that we should stop trying to carry those who don’t need to be carried. It prevents them from ever feeling that they have any control over their own lives.
Feminism is especially bad for the “You’d be nowhere without me!” claim it imposes on women in general, but many other forms of social justice warrior provide similar problems every time they try to do all the work for someone rather than letting that individual realize they can carry themselves.
Our greatest power is the power to be self-actualized human beings. The capacity to better ourselves and the situations we find ourselves within. The power to be more than we are.
The first step to all of this begins by saying, “I can change my destiny.”
Wealth and Poverty
I’ve seen both extremes of this spectrum personally—I’ve lived in comfortable air conditioning, with practically anything I could want for … and I’ve lived in squalor in a ghetto, barely surviving on only a spoon of peanut butter and dry pasta to eat every day for months on end. I’ve had people just assume I’m a straight white male, and I’ve been on the receiving end of hatred from even my own family due to how I was born. I’ve supposedly had oodles of “privilege” while simultaneously being one of the most supposedly “disadvantaged” people in society. Funny, that.
And you know what? Honestly, I’ve learned that it’s largely irrelevant whether you’re born into the lap of luxury or are starving to death. As humans, we adapt to any given situation with remarkable ease. If you’re starving, then something as simple as a glass of milk or a hamburger can bring you great joy. If you’re catered to in every way possible, then these same things aren’t remotely of the same value to you.
We require a baseline for happiness with which we compare our current situation against, and that baseline shifts and alters depending on our life experiences. No matter what you do, you will never be “perpetually happy.” If everyone treated you kindly, if you had no fears, no problems, no harmful situations coming your way, you’d still never be truly happy.
First World problems are not inherently any worse than anyone else’s problems. If you took the starving child in Africa and dumped them into the life of a millionaire, I can guarantee you that, within a mere decade, they would be furious if someone brought them a drink that didn’t have quite enough ice in it.
Our expectations change based on what someone can do for themselves and how far they exceed our expectations.
Our respect, from others and our own self-respect, is largely derived from whether we meet these expectations, whether we better ourselves or stagnate, whether we rise to the challenge or falter and fail.
It’s not about being born better off than others, oddly enough, or even being supposedly “privileged” or “oppressed”; what matters is what you do with what you have and how you improve your position in life relative to where you are.
The truly great individuals in this world have always made the best of what they have had. It’s part of what makes them truly great. Possibly the only thing.
Where others falter and say, “The world is against me, I give up,” truly great individuals rise and persevere in the face of audacity, challenge their fate, and do what others believe to be impossible.
I am not one of these people. It’d be nice if I was, but I’m not. I’m working on it, though, and that’s the important part. I’ve learned that it isn’t enough to wallow in misery, blaming the world for my failings. Sure, the world’s against me. It’s been a hell of a lot more against me than it has for most people, but that’s irrelevant—what matters is that I’ve learned to plow through hardship and better myself along the way.
The greatest strength we can ever possess is the understanding that we can better our position in life no matter the opposition we face. From actual slaves in literal chains to those who have climbed Everest, it’s all the same. When you realize that challenges can be overcome, or at least fought against, you can become better as a person and therefore better your place in the world.
You may always remain a slave, but you may become the leader of the slaves, which is still better than where you were, and honestly, that’s what’s important. It’s a strange realization that you can be happy as a slave, but it’s oddly true—so long as we are continually improving our position in life, even if that position still sucks, the fact that it’s better than what we had before is the part that we hold important.
Even if you went from being a slave to a millionaire, it’s irrelevant; without continual progression—if you stagnate—you’ll be dissatisfied in life.
Does this mean we shouldn’t free the slaves of the world? Hell, no. Of course we should. But the fight doesn’t end there, and that’s the point. Just being free isn’t good enough. Just being given advantages in life doesn’t make you happy. Being given the advantages of the supposedly “privileged” doesn’t make you happy—you’ll perpetually want more.
And this leads into how to do that.
The Truly Great
The truly great adapt the world to themselves; if life gives them lemons, they don’t just make lemonade. They corner the market on lemonade, build a small fortune off it, then liquidate their assets and invest in something bigger, always bettering their position in life.
This is the true key to happiness in life—we always look for “more,” we always want things to be “better,” we need to know more, to do more, to be more, to have more. It doesn’t matter how much we have at any given time, but only that there could be more than what we already have or that we could be more than who we already are.
To better ourselves and our position in life is what matters. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are—you will always seek out “more.”
Consider someone in the desert; a glass of ice cold water could be heaven for them, simply because it’s more than they have currently. For someone in an air-conditioned mansion, a glass of water is simply a given.
As our situation in life improves, so, too, does our desire for “more” and so, too, follows the expectations put upon us.
For the person in the desert, simply finding an oasis, or that glass of cold water, is all that’s needed for them to be respected and adored. The millionaire, however, gains nil for respect in the exact same action. As the millionaire gains more, the expectations put upon them are increased so that the millionaire has to do more just to be considered vaguely adequate.
Respect is earned, not mandated, and it must be garnered from doing something difficult. Sometimes survival is difficult enough for some people, and they’re given adoration for pulling themselves out of a desperate situation. For a leader, a CEO, a president or prime minister, or other figure of authority, however, they’re held to higher standards. Survival just isn’t good enough. They have to do more than those near the bottom. What would garner respect for the average person on the street would provide little else but scorn for those at the top.
As such, making things easier for someone doesn’t do anything to help them. Programs like affirmative action provide zero respect. If you’re given a position in a company not because you earned it but because you were mandated it above someone who was better qualified, you simply will never earn any respect for that … because you literally didn’t earn any respect.
To this end, we must strive for equal opportunity; give people the tools they need to succeed! Let them fight on an even playing field, give them the training and knowledge they need to do their best … but we still have to accept that, in the end, whether they rise to the challenges presented or not is on them, not us.
We can’t expect equal results. They never will be. Some individuals will rise to the top because they are willing to do what’s necessary to become the best. Others will never be fit for these positions of power, no matter how much you try to prop them up.
The key is that people who are taught to fight for what they want, to strive for excellence, and to take life by the horns will succeed no matter how many obstacles are placed in their way.
Those who are coddled, are allowed to relax, and have the standards of entry lowered for them will always fall behind because they won’t be able to confront the challenges they face in their new position.
Let’s return to our desert scenario again, shall we?
We have someone in the desert who requires water. Rather than let her find her own, or give her the training on how to find water, someone drives up and hands her the water. There’s no respect gained from this, and she has learned nothing on how to better her position in life. Now that she has water, however, she’s carted off to be a village leader, yet she has no problem-solving skills because she’s used to people simply handing her solutions to her problems. She’s a useless leader and brings down everything around her, harming not only herself but her entire community.
This is where affirmative action and similar drives lead us—failure for all.
Women should be given all the opportunities in the world to improve and prove themselves, but they shouldn’t be given handouts to forcibly make them “equal” to men. The same goes for all other minorities or disadvantaged groups.
Stop hand-feeding us. Teach us how to stand on our own two feet, and tell us that we can succeed if we take those tools and use them properly.
By trying to cater to us at every turn, you’re really only harming us as individuals and holding us back from our true potential.
It took me years to learn that, and I’m worse off for not having learned it sooner, so this is my message to everyone out there who feels disadvantaged or that the world owes you—no, it doesn’t, and being privileged sucks almost as much as being disadvantaged. It’s all about how you learn to work with what you have. Nothing more, nothing less.
We must take responsibility for our own actions; that’s the moral of this whole post, but it goes further than that.
It’s not enough to be complacent when others are harming those around you. There are two sayings I’d like to make use of here:
“The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
“The small and the weak will belittle you, and try to make you fail, but the truly great will make you feel that you, too, can be great.”
These are paraphrased, but you get the idea.
It’s not good enough for you to better your own position in life, but rather part of greatness is derived from strengthening those around you, bolstering their resolve, and granting them the tools—be it knowledge, wisdom, inspiration or ambition—to better themselves as well.
You also can’t sit idly by and allow someone to cause harm to others, even if they believe it’s in their best interests. No one thinks they’re evil, not even the most hated dictators or serial killers in history. Invariably, they justify their actions. The path to hell is paved with good intentions, after all.
The social justice warriors believe they help those who are disadvantaged by holding their hands the whole way, by fending off the criticism needed to grow, by insisting that only the perpetrator of a crime is at 100% fault and that the victim can never do anything to make it less likely to happen to them in the future.
We can’t allow this to continue. This has to stop.
Hatred comes in many forms, and when you segregate the world into the “haves” and “have-nots,” this invariably will breed resentment and some of the worst hatred and bigotry out there. Those on the top can view those on the bottom with disdain, but often those on the bottom can view those on the top with malice just as easily.
Rather than striving to bring themselves to the top, they seek to bring the top down to their own level. This helps none of us, and never truly provides happiness, as was covered earlier. Dragging someone down with you into the mud doesn’t make you happy—you have to improve your position based upon where you are, not where you are in relation to someone else. This is an all-too-common mistake that so many people make. They believe if they harm another, then they will feel better in comparison.
It just doesn’t work that way, unless you’re a psychopath, in the clinical definition of the term.
For the rest of us, it’s an obligation for us to root out this behaviour and put an end to it quickly. Build people up, teach them how to better themselves, give them the tools to become truly great, and we will simply have a better society overall.
In this particular case, we have an example—radical feminist hatred, in which these individuals have come to believe that the only way for women to be happy is for the mass genocide of males.
It’s not enough to better your own self but also to explain to these others that they don’t need to live their lives filled with hatred and anger. There are better ways to bring all of us to a better place.
Unfortunately, there are those of us who simply have given up on this. Rather than truly help those who need it, there are those who have given way to letting it slide or making excuses for those who need help the most among us.
For example, David Futrelle has become complicit in protecting these wounded individuals, and rather than trying to help them achieve a better life, he has been neglectful, coming up with excuses for such hatred. By not helping them grow out from their hatred and showing them how to better themselves, he perpetuates the problem.
A recent series of events surrounding Futrelle makes him an ideal example of what not to do, as can be seen here: David Futrelle covers for violent feminists.
Personally, I disagree with the specifics on how to handle this, but I do agree that this can’t be allowed to continue. He has harmed so many women by encouraging their bitter anger and self-destructive tendencies rather than by providing them the tools to better themselves.
This is merely one example of thousands, or likely millions or more.
In the end, our personal responsibility extends beyond ourselves and must be applied via proxy to those we care about. We can’t change the viewpoints of others, nor can we physically force them to succeed, despite the best attempts of social justice warriors everywhere.
We can, however, give them the tools to allow them the opportunity to succeed. The rest is up to them—they have to make the choice to better themselves.
I am Catreece MacLeod. I’ve been a victim, and I’ve harboured hatred for those who had an easier life than me, but no more. I’m better than that now. When I claimed responsibility for my own actions, for my own life, and my own destiny, I gained the first of many tools I needed to forge my own destiny anew.
The cycle of hatred ends with me because I can’t force anyone else to stop. It stops because I no longer perpetuate it. I no longer harbour hatred for those who have more than I do. Instead, I seek to elevate myself to their level, and what I’ve found is that those who witness that resolve are willing to reward it and help me as I help myself, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, or any other factor.
I am responsible for my own life, and while my hardships may be more than those that some others face, the point is largely irrelevant. No one else can live my life for me. No one else can be held responsible for my decisions. No one else can force me to succeed. You can offer me help, you can offer me hope, and you can offer me the tools needed to better myself, but you can never carry me.
And to any social justice warrior out there, to any feminist, to any other minority or individual who feels oppressed or disenfranchised, I invite you to join me in a better future for all of us, to break the cycle of hatred, and to claim personal responsibility, which unlocks the greatest power available to you—control over your own life.