Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sanction of the Victim

*{An addendum to the last post.]

This is a delicate topic. Upon thinking about my previous post, I started applying the philosophies of Ayn Rand to my life, and saw that, as a "Victim," I had let certain avenues open to the people bullying me. I saw it clearly this morning, how in some respects the permission of the victim is needed before he or she can become the victim. Most people will disagree with me. Heck, I'll disagree with me. But in some cases, I believe this to be true.

My mom told me to ignore it and it would go away. I did just fact, I did more than that, I ignored everyone. There was a time when I would not talk to anyone but my teachers for a whole day. The potential friends I alienated, the people that thought I was strange... I became, to the bullies, an inanimate object. Something worse than a "victim" because at least the bully can have a relationship with that victim. But in my case, I wouldn't even let them do that. I became a stone, a rock, an island. And nothing touched me. But with all the pain I suffered through middle school, the punches, the being kicked in the nuts, multiple times, I didn't let it show at all. No one could get inside the walls I had built for myself. I lived in whatever fantasy worlds I had created for myself at that time, and, not having a whole lot of family life to support me, I became a caterpillar (if you don't mind me switching metaphors). Walled up in a cocoon that would be impossible to break (at least, while I was in middle school, but that's another story.) By ignoring them all, I wasn't telling them "NO!" I wasn't yelling at the top of my lungs.. "STOP IT!!" I never told them, "Get the Hell out of my way!" I simply took it.

Is that not just the same as Hank Reardon facing his family at the table, withstanding the constant jabs by his mother, his wife, his brother? Reardon took it, knowing that he could. He could just ignore it and take the pain and never have to worry about the lies they told him. Or to the industrialists of the novel (and to some extent, to the businessmen and entrepreneurs of today's world), they could just ignore the constant taxes being leveled on the rich and productive, because they could always stand to lose a little profit for the sake of the country. For the people.

Because not saying no is the same as telling them, "Go ahead, beat me up... I can take it." And it shouldn't be that way. The victims of today's high schools and middle schools, the ones that are bullied daily, they do not yell "STOP IT!" They simply accept the social standards of the world they live in. They have to take it because that's how the world works. Men must be men and not cry. Bullies must enact their Darwinian responsibility to bring down everyone that might be greater than they are, just so they might look as good as possible for the people they are trying to impress. And the bystanders... they are just as a participant as the victim getting beaten. Do you think that those that stand around watching are saying, "Cool, look at the schmuck getting beat up? No. They are saying, "I'm glad it's not me." Only, they know, that in some cases, it could be them. So they stay out of the way, out of the line of fire, and keep their heads down, hoping not to be noticed by the teachers, by the bullies, by anyone.

This is not everyone, of course. But for the people that care about individuality, the need to protect that is more important than being friends with someone, than fitting in with the masses. When society turns against you, you must find your own standards of living, and you must hold on to those standards no matter what, else you face destruction.

Think of all the school shootings that have happened lately. Those students, that, when the time came, broke down, and their standards became compromised. So instead of yelling "Stop!", they used other, more physical methods. And seeing that they had become the people they despised, they ended it themselves, turning the anger that had enveloped them on themselves. (The idea of Anger is one I have touched on before, both Here and Here.) In relation, the recent suicide by a student in Dekalb County, Georgia, who hanged himself because of the bullying that he received in his 5th grade class. He didn't cry out, "NO!" and was not strong enough to take the years of bullying he was to receive afterward. What makes me furious was that the school system, upon review of the whole incident, found no bullying had taken place. And I am not surprised. The standards by which students live by say that nothing like this could ever be reported by students, for fear of retribution. They would much rather see a student die than to admit that there was a problem going on, one that existed in the very core of the rules in which they live. The teachers, for fear of being accused of not reporting anything, that something like that would happen on their watch, said nothing either. And so the whole thing was swept under the rug. This was exactly what happened in Atlas Shrugged with the Taggart Tunnel disaster. No one was willing to take the blame, or to stop what they knew would be a disastrous situation, for fear of the repercussions that might happen. So nothing gets done about, and people die.

So when I say that "it all worked out." in my last blog, it needed further explanation. Only through the friends that I had in Rolling Green, like Chris and Lane, and Brad and Ford, was I able to exist in a microcosm that let me be myself. It provided a safety valve that made the Hell I went through bearable. And because of this, once I got to Heritage High, and joined the marching band (yet another safety valve.), things got better. I was able to make friends, like Amanda and Rachel. It was this that kept me from becoming like the Columbine shooters, or like the boy in Dekalb County.

The sanction of the victim is actually necessary for them to become a victim. I'm sure that every psychologist will say something similar. A wife being beaten has to say, "NO! I'm not going to live like this!" The battered women's shelters are places of sanctuary, much like John Galt's valley. But this is so hard for most people to do. The victims give in to the rules of society because they see no other way to live. They decide that they can take it. That all they have to do is to escape into some other realm and all will be better. And for the most part, today, with World of Warcraft, and multitudes of Fantasy novels, and the Internet...etc... it is very possible for people to do just that. What they don't want to do is to continue in reality, take charge of their own lives, and change the standards in which they live, and force others to see that the rules that they live by, that of Victim and Bully, of Bystanders and Apathetic losers, is WRONG! Not by force, obviously. Violence only confirms that society's rules are valid. Society must be made aware of the underlying principles on which those standards are based, and then be forced to change them. Or else the Victim should escape, in Reality, to someplace where the bullying can not happen. This is not to say they should become hermits in their own house, but rather some kind of Microcosm, like Rolling Green was for me, should be formed so that, even if going to the same school is still necessary, a safety valve can be created where the child can have time to be themselves, instead of the person that society wants them to be.

In a later blog, I want to look at the school's role in protecting individuals, in producing individuals, instead of mass-creating the clones that they believe should be made in a free, public educational system. Also,the steps that parents can take to support individuality are just as important as the schools. I do not think that bullying can be ended forever. It's in human nature for the strong to overcome the weak. Nor do I suppose that the weak, that sometimes need to be weeded out, must be held in a higher regard than the strong people in this world. But a society that destroys the good, the brilliant, the truly talented in place of the mediocre, the mundane, the multitudes of muscles and obedience, that should not be allowed to happen. Give the victims a chance to grow, and, as individuals, they can become like Bill Gates, or Christopher Paolini, or Einstein, to name a few. Woe to the people that repress those who would be victims in our society, and force them to be the same as everyone else, only to squash the amazing future that we might all have as human beings. But equal woe to the victim that lets them do it without shouting to the hills for his own life, and slumps down in his seat rather than be the human being he was meant to be.

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