This is a part of a series of meditations on Marcus Aurelius' seminal work Meditations.
I. We Are What We Consume
II. Don't Play the Victim
Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.
– Marcus Aurelius
Here at the Vital Masculinity Project, we often launch into jeremiads against certain aspects of our modern culture. It is important that the majority of these lamentations or calls-to-action are not novel and have echoed through the centuries, as prophets, philosophers, and priests would try to issue course corrections for the ship of society. The scope of this current subject, however, has never been seen before amongst men of any era, making it doubly important to discuss.
One of the sole purposes of a growing contingent of our society (mainly involving academia) is to promote the display of weakness and fragility in men. This wound- or victimhood-complex, in many ways, to feminize men, encouraging docility and agreeableness over traditionally masculine and western attributes such as strength, reason, and courage. It is evident that many men that agree to these terms, publicly at least, are doing so in order to virtue signal how “woke” or “progressive” they are.
It cannot be understated how much social media has fostered this environment. The need to one-up or agree and amplify is ingrained in a large percentage of interactions on there, as the perpetual need for approval or attention in many drives them to further degrade themselves or others in a shameful act of virtue signaling.
At the end of the day, though, it must be realized this is all a farce, a game. Weakness and a victim mentality have never been a prized trait in any civilization, for it was an invitation for complacency in internal development and conquest from external forces. Playing the victim meant certain doom for
I would reckon that the vast majority of our readers already reject this weakness, however. It is thus important to point out how this mindset, driven by selfishness and pride, can still drive us to complain and be easily affronted.
Our fallen world has made it easy for men to find things to complain about – the state of the world, our relationships, politics, a delay in Amazon Prime shipping… our added complexity has given us numerous opportunities to find fault with our lives. Often times we face this with muted grumbling or silent curses under our breath. Other times, however, we bring our wife, our kids, or the whole world via social media into our misery.
Is this the manly thing to do? To whine, to moan, to complain? Absolutely not.
Let’s take the advice of a Roman Emperor, who undoubtedly had more on his plate in running the world’s most powerful empire than we could ever imagine handling. He would not be caught dead complaining, even in his own private journal, about injuries real or perceived. It comes across as weak and cowardly.
If we are to truly follow Aurelius’ words, we must not only not complain or bemoan our current state, but to actively reject any injuries, particularly if they are imaginary. The old advice to “grow thicker skin” or “toughen up” is very relevant here. Don’t be so easily offended, don’t let yourself become a grumbler. Bear your wounds, whatever they may be, with manliness and courage. By doing so you will become more of a man than any professional victim pretends to be today.