Thinking About What Matters: Victim or Survivor?

We live in dangerous times; times made more dangerous

by the use of history to bolster victimhood.

Quotes about victimhood, the thorn among the troses and how to move beyond the bad times. s

Emotional Fitness Training Thoughts

When did your ancestors step out of slavery? Or perhaps they were the strong and powerful of their era and captured, sold or bought slaves? Do you own both sides or use history to bolster your sense of victimhood?

Slavery is as old as humankind, so everyone’s ancestors include slaves and slave owners. History is important, but not as a place to vent current hurt. I oppose using history to defame people out of context. Too much of that is happening today.

Thomas Jefferson is a prime example. He was a man of his times and his times was a time when slavery was accepted. George Washington kept slaves but is not as defamed. I think that is because Jefferson made one of his slaves his mistress; that resonates as painful to most women, particularly any who have been assaulted.

What you need to think about this issue. Jefferson’s relationship with Hemings evolved sometime after the death of his wife. Hemings was in her teens and Jefferson in his forties. Certainly, that made her a victim both as a slave and as a child subjected to an adult’s sexual desires.

However, think about this: Sally Hemings can also be thought of as a survivor. Perhaps she used her sex appeal to her advantage.  Maybe, she didn’t and felt raped every time he entered her. Either way, we do not know. Because we don’t know,  the chances are just as good, she used what she could to improve her life and her children’s lives. It is even possible she loved him and he loved her.

After Jefferson’s death, Hemings was “given her time,” and lived her last nine years freely with her two younger sons. She saw a grandchild born in the house her sons owned.

Hemmings’ children did far better than the other slaves he owned.  They lived in Jefferson’s house and were trained in a number of trades which made it possible for them to become self-sufficient once freed. Jefferson freed all of Hemings’ surviving children: Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston, as they came of age. Moreover, they were the only slave family freed by Jefferson. They were seven-eighths European in ancestry, and three of the four entered white society as adults. Descendants of those three identified as white.

My point? We don’t know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it comes to the good and evil in historical figures. History should not be used to spread hate. I am not saying whitewash Jefferson but see the whole man. Seeing only what you identify with good or bad,  is prejudice.

Prejudice is what we need to be fighting. How? We need to learn from history so we can do better and help others do better.  We must honor the good as well as denouncing the evil.

Emotional Fitness Training Tips 

Tip one:  Do not use history to “Awfulize” current hurts. An earlier post of mine asked the Me Too Movement to not see a grope as the same as a rape. dong so is awfulizing. So is the effort to make current racial problems in the USA the equivalent of the chattel slavery (owning people as property with no rights) of past centuries.

Tip two: Strengthen all your self-soothing skills.  You might want to buy my e-Book Self-soothing to Create Calm in Your Life. 

Tip three: Know when more is needed. If you can function, have flashbacks, are always depressed or angry, harbor suicidal or homicidal thoughts, get therapy. A good place to start is the Suicide Hot Line.They are there 24/7 to can help you figure what more you might need to get and stay emotionally strong. Here’s the USA number:  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  Call 1-800-273-8255. You don’t need to be holding the pills in your hand tor loading a gun to call them.

Thank you for all you do

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