I can’t remember the last time I heard someone admit that they made bad choices. Or that they had a spoiled character, or lacked discipline. Or that they had no impulse control, no moral compass, and a low IQ. No imagination, no drive, no ambition. Pathologically lazy, self absorbed, cruel, envious, and invidious. Dull witted, salacious, rapacious, and gluttonous. Brimming with sin in a fallen world, in need of salvation that will never come. Deserted by God and he’s not coming back.
I’ve heard people accuse others of all the above. Well, not with the same diction, but you know. Millennials come in for a particularly brutal thrashing. It’s this younger generation of people who were apparently raised by no one and who formed their values out of pure caprice that will be the downfall of man. They have no attention spans, they worship technology, fuck each other indiscriminately without deep commitments that they’ll grow to resent anyway, and expect to be rewarded with treasure and praise for doing absolutely nothing.
And it’s their own fault, as long as I’m not in the same class of person and can’t be identified with them. People in my day, we didn’t treat others like fuck meat; we courted our sweet, chaste ladies for years with tender entreaties and delicate sonnets before we fucked the shit out of them, meaningfully and rhapsodically, of course. Back in our day we worked hard to drop out of high school and get a factory job that required the mental capacity of a 5 year old, where we were paid 30 dollars an hour and given generous benefits and retirement packages to perform one repetitive motion all day, as long as we didn’t get our extremities caught in the machines, which would have ground our flesh into cornmeal and our bones into dust. But we were well compensated if that happened.
Everything is someone else’s fault. Much of the time it’s not even another person or group of people. It’s an abstraction. It’s the system, the structure, the institution. Capitalism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, christianity, punitive justice, authority, hierarchy. It’s also the left, social justice warriors, cultural marxism, Keynesian economics, universities and journalists. Modernism, postmodernism. Sometimes it’s Kant, or Hegel, or Heidegger; we can go all the way back and blame Plato too. Someone thought something and wrote it down 2000 years ago, and that’s why people act the way they do now. It’s not because they are, currently, in their vibrantly fleshly form, complete blithering idiots with no sense of justice or capacity to reason, it’s because a book was written eons ago.
The tendency to blame other people and nebulous forces for human behavior is certainly not my fault. I’m a voice for individual human freedom. Sometimes horrible things happen to people and they have absolutely no control over it, and these horrible things occur with a frequency and severity that does depend on who they are and where they live. Nevertheless, we all make choices to be better or worse people regardless of the circumstances in which we live. If you want people to be better, you can’t just reform a broken social system, you have to remake their corrupt souls. And you can’t really do that from the outside, it has to come from within. All you can do is remind people of the power they have to change themselves, and hope that they have courage and intelligence to do it. If they can’t or don’t want to, it’s on them.
Economically, we have it harder than the last few generations in some ways, but even that statement has to be qualified. It’s very difficult to judge who really has it easier at any given time when you factor in all the wildly differing variables, and the fact that contentment with life is ultimately subjective. Quality of life as an objective measure will only take you so far. And yes, you can surmise that it’s better to have clean drinking water than to be forced to drink diarrhea smoothies for sustenance, but the happiness that a person feels, their gratitude for life and they way they treat other people is a product of the control they exercise over themselves. That has always been true and always will be.
The obsession with how supposedly easy it is for some people, with privilege and relative advantage, is personal weakness masquerading as social justice. People are succumbing to the vice of envy and dressing it up as activism. They heap shame on what they see as the oppressor because they can’t bear the shame within. Rather than combat their rage and resentment with spiritual discipline, they band together and inflame their vicious grudges.
They take the legitimate idea of influence and completely confuse it with irresistible cause. You may have been influenced by people to behave a certain way, but you are still responsible for actually behaving that way. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to over or under-eat. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to take out loans you couldn’t possibly repay. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to get a degree that would yield absolutely no returns on the investment of your education. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to have children you couldn’t care for. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to buy things you didn’t need.
If you can’t resist the stimuli of your external environment, then you will justly be crushed. If you need the world to mirror your frail ego, then you are destined to be shattered a thousand times over. You can perform all the mental gymnastics you want to absolve yourself of basic responsibility, dismissing the very notion as ideology, neo-liberal or bourgeois or whatever quasi marxist bullshit you can cook up, but it will still be there, haunting you until you make a change.