“Tragedy Makes You a Better Person” and Other Lies
A kind reader was mentioning a situation in which they received a terrible, disabling injury at a young age, and how people were always responding to this tragedy with phrases like, “I’m sure it made you a better person.” As if a child who gets shot and disabled from it was a BAD person beforehand? What the hell is that about?
And yes, people will often sort of coo and make vague noises when you tell them about something terrible that happened in your life, and they will say, “I’m sure you learned from this,” or “Everything happens for a reason.”
Yeah, you LEARNED that sometimes, terrible shit happens beyond your worst imagining, and quite often, the REASON is because other people are assholes!
When people imply that you are now a “better person” because you’ve suffered through something horrible, or they tell you that such events are “character building,” it’s so incredibly abusive and petty. Because it implies that you were a bad person BEFORE those events, and you needed to be “taught a lesson” or something.
It’s very condescending. And it’s especially clueless because what is often happening is that there was a massive derailment or the insertion of something negative and terrible into your life. Your positive timeline was hijacked by something that didn’t want you to be too happy, too successful, too healthy. And this “incursion” really threw you on a completely different life path. And you did NOT choose this, and it was NOT your karma.
I really hate all those false metaphysical ideas out there that teach us to blame the victim, or they lie to us about how we “attracted” these events, when that’s not true at all.
Sometimes evil in the world hones in on a victim and does terrible things. Victims deserve our love and support and strength!
There’s another phrase that also has bothered me over the years. People who have kids will often look down their noses at people like me who don’t have kids and say something like, “You never know true love until you have a child.” As if a person could never be loving or generous or altruistic before she has sex without bothering to use birth control, and that that lusty and pleasure-seeking act in itself, and the nine months of gestating a child, elevates her to the status of instant saint.
It’s so silly. When actually, I find that most people with children these days become almost weirdly “worshiping” of their own kids, to the exclusion of caring anything about the rest of the world anymore.
I don’t think that worshiping the byproduct of your own DNA makes you a loving person; I think it makes you a narcissist!
And some of us care deeply and acutely about the WHOLE human race, not just those segments of it that happen to be related to us.