All I ever wanted was to be the victim.
I grew up on underdog stories. Religious ones, especially: David and Goliath, Gideon and his army of 300, Jesus of Nazareth, and all those poor, poor martyrs. God, I wanted to be just like them. I mean, not the martyrs, obviously. Living to old age was preferable.
Fortunately for me, I grew up in a country where faith was Under Fire from all the evil atheists who just wanted to force abortions and gay marriage and evolution on you, whether you wanted them or not. I had to be the good guy, what with all this persecution the world was throwing at me.
Then came college, and some paradigm shifts. Traditional Christianity, I saw, was the new Goliath. Faith wasn’t Under Fire…faith was the fire! The religious majority was forcing their overly-strict dogma on other people, making them conform to old-testament laws that were probably taken out of context and gender roles based on millennia-old writings. Fortunately, I was still on the side of the little guy. Though still a Christian, I was a young, free-thinking Christian, ready to poke holes in the orthodoxy!
And more years passed, and my perspective changed again. The newest big bad guy was the hegemony of straight white men. They make women earn less than men! They tell people who they can and can’t marry! They perpetuate the racial inequality that has been baked into American social systems! What bastards!
But it’s okay, I, a straight white male, am still the underdog because…
One of the problems with privilege is you don’t realize you have it. You see the world as split into two groups: happy, healthy, wealthy people who have it all together and people that have it even worse than you do. And you think of it as “even worse” because of course, your life is still pretty rough, right?
So I grew up thinking I was one of life’s victims because I was depressed and awkward and lonely and anxious. And it didn’t occur to me that you can be depressed and awkward and lonely and anxious AND sexually harassed AND racially discriminated against AND hated for your sexual orientation AND AND AND AND AND
I don’t have those ANDs. I’m not the underdog in this situation, no matter how much I want to be. And I don’t really know who I’m supposed to be now.
That’s part of why I haven’t been writing as much lately. With so much toxicity coming from people who look like me in the world today, I’ve come to be paranoid of my own opinions on everything. To wonder if I am even supposed to have opinions on some of these topics.
I want to help, but I’m not sure if my help is even wanted or needed. Even this post, which seemed like such a good idea at 6 in the morning, seems questionable. Am I white-knighting? Am I appropriating someone else’s struggle? Is it worse to try to help other people in condescending or patronizing ways, or is to avoid helping for fear of the same?
I don’t know. I take solace in knowing that, despite my heightened view of my own influence, this will actually only be read by a few friends and some random strangers on the internet that still subscribe to my blog, for reasons I cannot fathom. Thanks, you weirdos.