There’s an old joke, “The number one cause of divorce is marriage.”
Along those same lines, the number one cause of disappointment is expectations.
In today’s culture, people seem to feel they are “victims” if their expectations are not met.
For example, people expect to find a job after graduation to pay off the debt incurred in college. But, for many, if those expectations are not met, they blame everyone but themselves, including the companies that did not hire them or their college. Some even file lawsuits for tuition reimbursement and stress damages when they cannot get a job to which they think they are entitled. And some say college tuition is not fair, so they want everyone else to pay for it. This is classic victim mentality.
Often, expectations are based on a sense of fairness. The amorphous goal of “fairness” is impacted by the redefinition of a common term that that many mistakenly believe is a human “right.”
The term “equality” is thrown around by politicians, media talking-heads, special-interest advocates, and “social justice warriors” as though we have rights to equal outcomes or equal standards of living (not equal rights to pursue happiness).
Our Declaration of Independence affirms “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” But nowhere do our Founders guaranty “equality” as a right, either in treatment, opportunities, or in results.
The original concept of equality stems from the Founders’ rejection of the once ingrained belief that the ruling-class aristocracy had superior rights because they were chosen by God. America’s only guarantee of equality is equality in the eyes of the law.
The Fourteenth Amendment contains a clause that reads “no state shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Lawyer’s note: Our jurisprudence interprets that to mean the federal government as well as states). This is the part of the Constitution that is misconstrued to give people false expectations of “equality” in something more than equal status in terms of the law.
You probably already understand this, but many people do not because the politicians, advertisers, advocates, and media folks who benefit from enabling the victim mentality have long promoted the false notion that people are denied “fairness” if they don’t have “equality” in whatever they think they’re entitled to (this also leads to people making up “rights”).
Unfortunately, this is exacerbated by a couple of factors. Many years ago the ridiculous narrative of “every opinion is valid” began to take root. People actually believe that nonsense, and the so-called “political correctness” that avoids “offending” anyone has substantially curbed the normal socialization effect of letting people know when their ideas are just plain dumb.
People even ignore things like the colossal failures of socialism and communism in favor of their opinions that “fair” distribution of wealth and assets by ruling-class elites should work, despite the abundant historical evidence of disincentive to produce, massive corruption, and genocide. Even to the point where an avowed socialist (who used to say he was a communist) can be a contender for president because enough people feel they are victims of their unmet expectations.
Understanding that life is not fair, and that human expectations of “fairness” will inevitably lead to disappointment, is a helpful perspective for avoiding the victim mentality.
Those with that outlook are extremely fortunate.