Right Opinion

Hypersensitivity and Victimhood Have Risen to Epidemic Levels

James Shott · Dec. 4, 2018

Have you noticed how many of the things that laid quietly beneath our awareness for so long have now risen to crisis proportions? Have you noticed how sensitive, touchy, and judgmental people are today?

Things from the past that have no bearing on what’s happening today send people into spasms. They are demanding relief from things that really have no actual effect on them.

The South in the Civil War, for example, drives people to want to destroy important vestiges of American history because of something that happened more than 150 years ago.

One does not have to be a defender of slavery or the War Between the States to understand the importance of knowing and preserving history, even those parts of it that are not sources of pride or may in fact be sources of shame. As wonderful a place as it is, America has not always been, and is not now, without problems. But why destroy reminders of what actually happened in the past instead of protecting them and using them to learn?

This sensitivity for historical things has expanded to include things that once were mundane. Some of them were indeed negative, but we had learned to rise above them.

These things were not as serious as bullying, sexual harassment, or other such transgressions. They were minor annoyances: things didn’t go your way; you didn’t win the race; you heard things you disagreed with. These vexations did not send people hiding from reality.

But recently there has been an epidemic of people reacting strongly to hurt feelings over little things. Unfortunately, this condition has found a sympathetic ear on many college campuses, where safe spaces are routine and trigger warnings are to be issued by instructors prior to the delivery of material that may upset someone.

Perhaps this sort of thinking came initially from K-12 education, wherein school administrators decided no student should ever be made to feel bad and therefore every participant in events receives a trophy just for being there.

Indeed, some educators have decided that recognizing the two highest academically ranked graduating seniors, the valedictorian and salutatorian, also may cause hard feelings and has been discontinued so that those that didn’t make the grade will not suffer humiliation.

Now, many subscribe to the idea that whatever someone objects to must be recognized by everyone, even if most people disagree with doing so. This has subverted the idea of working to achieve success and of individual freedom.

Robious Middle School in Midlothian, Virginia, has decreed that because some members of the school choir have said they were uncomfortable singing a Christmas song that mentioned Jesus, any Christmas song that mentions him is now verboten. It doesn’t seem to matter to the powers that be that were it not for Jesus there would be no Christmas or Christmas songs, or that Christmas is a traditional holiday going back centuries.

Apparently it did not occur to anyone that merely saying the word “Jesus” or singing it in a musical performance does not mean a person does or should believe in Jesus and therefore should not create trauma for anyone. Given the lack of common sense in this case, if the choir cannot sing “Away In A Manger” because the word Jesus is in the lyric, is the band then forbidden to play it?

There are now signs of rebellion to these politically correct overreactions and the growing degree of personal effrontery. Oklahoma Wesleyan University is a private evangelical Christian university in Bartlesville. Its president, Dr. Everett Piper, describes an event he experienced in a letter to students.

“This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt ‘victimized’ by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.”

Piper, who has been recognized for his defense of intellectual freedom, went on to discuss how our culture has taught young people to be self-absorbed and narcissistic, and when their feelings are hurt, they see themselves as victims.

The title of the letter is a wonderful wake-up call to students: “This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!”

In it, he offers pieces of advice, such as:

  • “If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for.”

  • “At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered.”

  • “Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a ‘safe place’, but rather, a place to learn.”

  • “This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.”

The practice of coddling young people instead of helping them become mature adults is much more serious than many people understand. And the sooner it is reversed and kids have to confront unpleasant experiences and learn to deal with them, the better.

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