Recently, I was involved in a group discussion in which one of the guys was telling us about a project he was working on.
He’d been contracted by a hospital corporation to help them smooth out workflow kinks amid nurses’ stations. He said that nurses complained that they were so busy during their shifts that they rarely had time to even use the restroom.
“I understand being very busy at work,” said one of the women in the group. “We’re all busy, but being ‘too busy’ to go to the bathroom?” she asked.
“Come on! I think they may be wanting to martyrs!” the woman added.
First of all, I was totally surprised to hear that comment coming from a woman in our group. I thought she’d be more empathetic. I mean, let’s face it. When you factor in both career and family life, most women do far more work than your average family man. Is this breaking news?
I even had a female boss once who sometimes criticize workers who complained about having too much work to do.
“Oh, they’re just being a martyr!” I recall hearing her say more than once. “All they have to do is ask for help!” she would say. “We’re a team. That’s why we’re all here!”
She did have a point. She was implying that some of my co-workers were seeking the glamour of being “put upon” as opposed to doing the adult thing and simply requesting assistance.
Before I go on, let’s get on the same page and define the word “martyr.”
Dictionary.com defines “martyr” as …
“A person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle or cause…”
But wait, here’s another definition …
“A person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.”
Hollywood and the media love martyrs. They make for great storytelling. The greatest martyr of all remains Jesus Christ, but even He got off the cross and rose again. He claimed victory and moved on. There was nothing glamorous about saving humanity.
However, I think that some – not all – people who protest, march and demonstrate after the fact, are really seeking the spotlight. They’re being dramatic. They know their protests will likely get them on the Six O’Clock News … for what that’s worth.
For example, some of these people who are protesting President-elect Donald Trump? Whether you support Trump or not is beside the point, but where were these people BEFORE Election Day? Were they out getting people registered to vote? Were they passing our information in support of their candidate? Were they volunteering their time for their candidate?
I dare say they were not and do you know why? Because indignation almost always “trumps” prevention. Where’s the glamour in preventing anything? You can’t really measure that, but you can certainly measure and document indignation. Indignation will get you media attention. It gets you the spotlight.
Indignation is glamorous. There’s nothing quite like being a glamorous martyr ... especially on TV. It’s almost like being a movie star. People get to see how much you’re suffering and devoting to the cause … albeit after the fact.
Look … I’m not criticizing people who sacrifice their time, energy and money for causes they support. I do quite a bit of this myself. Yet I think you sometimes have to look beyond the surface and fish out true motives.
You can usually tell who’s sincere and who’s not. The insincere are usually the ones with the obvious stars in their eyes. You look at them and you can almost literally see the twinkling stars. They’re just waiting to pounce on their opportunity.
Here’s a personal example. This has nothing to do with politics, but it has popped into my mind for some strange reason.
I remember many years ago at my stepfather’s funeral, there were lots of his family members in attendance. Many of these people hadn’t seen or spoken with him in years.
Well, cutting to the chase here, as they were closing his casket during the funeral, one of his sisters leaps up and shouts out …
“OH LORD! THEY’RE CLOSING THE CASKET!” And she starts wailing. It was quite a show.
As this is happening, my sister and I are looking at each other and rolling our eyes. Believe me, I know different people mourn in different ways, but this was so clearly a play for attention. She saw her opportunity to be a glamorous martyr … for what cause I don’t quite know.
It was straight out of a bad soap opera. Even the minister had to ask her to pipe down. It was tacky to say the least.
But I digress. I just wanted to get that little anecdote out there. Back to political protests …
Look … ultimately, people can do whatever they want, but I just think that we’re living during a time when we’ve never had greater access to information. I mean, isn’t the whole point of information to help us make informed decisions to prevent worse-case scenarios as much as humanly possible?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the adrenalin-pump of a marching crowd or lure of the public spotlight.
“HELL NO! WE WON’T GO!” “HELL NO! WE WON’T GO!”
Who can resist that? It’s like a free for all and it comes built in with a story that you can tell the everyone for the rest of your life.
“YEAH! I WAS THERE! AND I TOLD THEM TO ‘SUCK IT!’”
Call me crazy, but an ounce of prevention is always superior to a pound of indignation after the fact. But who wants to work on the side of prevention? There’s nothing sexy about prevention. That’s boring.
It’s much more fun to be a glamorous martyr.
How to Meditate Badly