Main Entry: vic·tim Pronunciation: \ˈvik-təm\ Function: noun Etymology: Latin victima
1 : a living being sacrificed to a deity or in the performance of a religious rite 2 : one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent <the schools are victims of the social system>: as a (1) : one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions <a victim of cancer> <a victim of the auto crash> <a murder victim> (2) : one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment <a frequent victim of political attacks> b : one that is tricked or duped <a con man’s victim>
I know that I shouldn’t feel like a victim. I’ve read it in the self-help books. Don’t give away your power, take it back. It’s not what happens to you it’s how you react to any given event in your life.
That’s all nice, but I still feel like a victim. This last year I’ve felt like a victim of the economy. Companies close, my income crashes. My running shoes have holes. I’m mad as hell that I can’t afford a damn gym membership while Citigroup executives are taking my tax money and the outlandish interest rates and spending them on their own bonuses. I almost blew a vein when we got a letter saying our interest rate is going up from 7% to 17% for no reason, just because they can do that to people with perfect credit scores. Abused is how I felt.
I feel mistreated by the big corporations who, because of their power and money, can decide whether I live or die, go bankrupt or have access to clean water and food. I feel oppressed by a government that allows such corporations to act in such injurious ways due to a corrupt campaign finance system. I feel adversely affected by a media monopoly and by a medical community that is run by the large pharmaceutical companies. Everyday I become aware of some new injustice that befalls me. And there are just as many organizations, politicians, religious leaders, ranting radio talk hosts and corporations to blame for the exploitation that I experience.
As much as I was relieved to have others to blame for my predicaments, I quickly discovered that being a victim actually isn’t much fun. It really cramps my style. You really need to be angry a lot of the time, walk around with a chip on your shoulder, which makes bench presses a little awkward, and it was creating more wrinkles on my forehead. Not to mention what the stress that comes with being a victim does to your health. It raises your cortisol levels, wrecks havoc with your sleep and messes up your digestion. I also quickly noticed that my outward demonstration of my victim-hood was getting no attention from the greedy banks, the corrupt politicians, the money hungry insurance companies or the monopolized media. In fact, they were still up to their dirty old tricks and my circumstances hadn’t changed. So I accepted what was my fate and decided I didn’t like it and was going to make some changes for myself. So I thought I’d try doing the “acting on” for a change, reverse the roles in a way.
So, they don’t want me to have access to affordable health care? Well, fine. I’ll show them. I’ll just change my lifestyle as best I can so I don’t need to go to the doctor as often. I don’t need their over-priced pharmaceuticals anyways. So there. You want to poison my foods? I’ll buy organic. You want to try and scare me into thinking birth is a medical condition? Fine, I’ll birth my babies at home. You want me to believe your lies? I’ll tell everyone I know the truth. Ha! You want to numb me into apathy with your stupid network programming and reality shows and entertainment shows you call “news”? Go ahead. I’ve got the remote. You think you can screw up the economy so bad that people loose their jobs and no longer can afford running shoes? Well you did, but I happen to love barefoot running. And every time I spend the little money I have, I’m making a statement about what I value and what I don’t. Every time I put something in my mouth, I’m making a statement. Every hour I put into moving and getting oxygen to my cells, I’m becoming less of a victim.
As W. Mitchell has said in his book, “It’s Not What Happens To You, It’s What You Do About It, it’s completely up to us to accept our circumstances, and then do something about them. There will be forces that act against us, against our well-being, against us being healthy and strong. There will be too many unhealthy cheap foods too tempting to resist and too many reasons that make it hard for us to move our bodies in a society that is built around inactivity. There will be too many health professionals that are not interested in preventing your diseases, only in trying to cure them once you are sick and it’s too late. There is too much inaccurate information. There are people and corporations that prefer you to be sick and uneducated as long as their profits are rising. There are people and corporations that will take advantage of you. But you can do something about all this. You must take responsibility for your circumstances and for your next steps. If anyone is going to do anything about your problems, it’s got to start with you. Remember 8 out of the 10 leading causes of death are due to diet and lifestyle choices. That’s YOUR diet and YOUR lifestyle we’re talking about.