Fortunately, this happened before I sent my own card. Had it been published, I'd probably have felt perversely pleased with myself for a while, but eventually I'm sure I would have grown ashamed.
(Of course this same argument applies to anonymous blogs, just like this one. I try to fight that, my last post notwithstanding, for reasons we'll explore below.)
Victimhood is seductive. If life is unpleasant, if someone manages to climb up your back and tread you down, there's something in human nature which is more inclined to whine, lick its wounds and hide behind others than to fight back. Sure, there are people out there who are true victims and who need the support of the strong because they cannot fight for themselves. If that support were readily available, then there would be fewer victims around, to be a victim would make you genuinely strong. But that logic is easily hijacked. All you have to do is look like a victim.
Why do we try to protect victims anyway? The herd, attacked by a predator, doesn't try to protect the weak, the injured, the infirm, it just tries to get away. The victim is by definition compromised. The weakness in one is a weakness in the whole herd. Hence natural selection.
Could protecting the weak be a vehicle towards enhancing your own desirability? If you're seen to be heroic, risk your life even, are you showing the rest how virile and strong you are? Is the risk of weakening yourself so much that you become a victim yourself, worth the payoff that you get if you're successful? If so, then perhaps everyone wins. The weak are protected and the heroes are, well, heroes and all that goes with it. Bingo! Survival trait.
Any means to power will be abused.
The not-so-heroic will look askance and wonder if the hero can be exploited. Get him to stick his neck out, so I don't have to, eh? All to the better if the victim has something to offer, like, oh, I don't know, reproductive capability? 'Just have to look like a victim.
The best lie is one that is believed by the liar. Thus faux victims must convince themselves that they are true victims. While keeping their strength even from themselves, they must appear weak at the right time and in the right place. But don't be too blatant. Being a true victim implies true weakness and a true drain on the hero's resources. Better for the hero if you didn't weigh him down while he's actually being heroic. Once he's hooked, pick yourself up, but make it look like he's doing it, believe yourself that he is doing it. Even if he gets an inkling, if he knows what's good for him and you're good enough in your role, he'll play along.
It's sort of an unpleasant thought, really, the evil hero and his evil victim, conning you into believing the scam, cheering them on. Those words don't belong together: evil, victim, evil, hero. We feel a revulsion at the idea. Play acting for the crowd. Wolves in sheep's clothing. We're vigilant against them, which means they have to be all the more convincing, and you the more predisposed to believe them. The real victim, however, has to cope with being a genuine burden to a would be true hero, has to compete with the not-really-victims for his attention, and yours.
How would you identify a genuine victim? What are the characteristics? Besides the obvious. The faux won't be obvious. They don't want you to figure it out too easily, that gives them nowhere to hide.
True victims would be hard to spot too. If they were easy, they're also easy meat for the predator. Real victims wouldn't want to look like victims, they'd fight the label, wouldn't they?
(Perhaps all this falls down. I once got up close to a herd of wild horses. They were gathered around one of their elders, exhausted, lying on the ground. If he hadn't been prostrate, I'm sure I wouldn't have got so close. They used their safety in numbers to protect one of their own, even though it made them weaker than if they'd run off. Horses are smart.)
So, you can compete to be a hero, and go to war. And you can compete to be a victim, well back from the line.
But if you're a real victim, competition might be beyond your energies, so you'll use all your strength to blend in with the crowd. Especially if you were not the right kind, not politically correct.
Hence the secrets?
One of the PostSecrets read "I was molested when I was a child, but I didn't tell anyone. When I grew up, I found him and killed him, but I didn't tell anyone." This over a postcard of a particularly vulnerable looking child. Is this person a victim? The child was. But is a murderer (assuming it's true) a victim? Is he or she a hero?
I don't want to be a victim, I just want my son back. I'd like to be his hero.