One thing that constantly annoys and perplexes me is the fact that such a large percentage of people in our society seem to think more like victims than predators. What I mean is that they so often work from a defensive mindset rather than an offensive one. As we will see, this approach is not only highly ineffective, but it leads to some very illogical and utterly annoying tendencies.
Now, to be perfectly clear, when I use terms like "predator" and "victim", I'm not so much referring to the blatantly obvious tendency some people have to criminally prey on others; but I'm using them as a villainous metaphor for many of the more subtle and socially common attitudes and views people seem to take in their daily existences. In so many instances and in so many lives, individuals will only concern themselves with fending off whatever unpleasantness or misfortune that they imagine might be "coming after them". Maintaining their current status is often their only real concern and the idea of trying to be more proactive and ambitious rarely seems to enter their minds. They are constantly on defense and never try to do anything offensively (before you accuse me of using trite sports metaphors, keep in mind this can also apply to business, war, certain types of socializing or just plain natural selection; so much of life involves some form of "competition" and initiative).
Thinking only defensively seems to stem from some sort of perceived weakness. The idea that an individual only possesses enough ability to "defend" and not to "attack". This lack of decisiveness makes it much more difficult for an individual to determine their own fate. If a person refuses to push forward, they can not expect to make any headway in their lives and are doomed to continuously fight to maintain their current position in the world, never to reach anything better. This victim lifestyle begins not with action, but with attitude. It is very all encompassing worldview and will determine a lot about how an individual operates and conducts themselves.
This victim approach may stem from an overall feeling of helplessness or powerlessness that one sees in their lives. However, it could also come as a result of moral indoctrination, the belief that ambition, desire, conquest and other proactive or predatory actions are evil. To want something better for yourself is to be selfish, greedy or envious. And to accomplish this, you often must take it away from someone or somehow beat out others who you are competing against.
I suspect that in most cases it is a combination of both. A person might view themselves as being worthless or powerless (in many cases, accurately so) and so they console themselves by clinging to the very communist ideas of morality. This is the true appeal behind the myth of equality; individuals who have no power are told that they shouldn't need any because no one should have it. Like a child who pouts about something that he was denied and says "I didn't want that anyway", they claim that they don't really want to have a certain level of power or success while simultaneously hating those that do (notice that many people often act as though the only reason they are not more successful is because they're not willing to be greedy; when in reality they probably don't have what it takes to be successful anyway and their only consolation for their inferiority is to claim that they are choosing to be "good", instead of being like the more successful "evil" people). In this way, selfishness is the true fundamental motivation behind many of the world's moral beliefs. Or, as H.G. Wells so exquisitely put it: "Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo".
There is also an element of complacency here; as it is often strategically easier to defend then to attack. "Attacking", requires one to be more proactive or in other words, it takes more effort. Actively going after something you want can also be more risky than simply staying where you are and "holding down the fort". However, it has often been said that the best defense is a good offense.
Thinking like a victim or defensively, can be less work, less risky and tends to be more on par with concepts of morality; so what's the problem? The problem is that it leads to real personal powerlessness. A person in the victim mindset is less likely to have any strong ambition or desire to better their circumstances. They are, by their own admission, at the mercy of many other elements of this world. This perceived a lack of control over one's existence becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I don't think I need to explain all of the problems with having a lack of control over your own life. Just remember, you can't expect anyone to have your best interests in mind but you. If you're not playing for your own team, then you don't have one (okay, I suppose that one really was a sports metaphor).
Another, much broader social problem associated with the victim mindset is people's ever growing dependency on other people and larger systems. An individual's lack of belief in their own power not only leads to general cowardice, but increasing expectations about what everyone else owes them. The more powerless people feel, the more they demand that other entities protect them and cater to them. This gives birth to a lot of social unrest, increased demands placed upon authority figures, as well as unreasonable ideas such as the concept of equality among individual (human) organisms; whose abilities (and, by extension, "rights"), can vary immensely. It also leads to a whole lot of whining, lots and lots of whining; which is often a telltale sign that someone is in the victim mindset. Predators do not sit around complaining about their problems and how the world is not fair.
An additional downside to the victim mindset is that it can often cloud people's judgments and skew logic. For instance, as Vicious has pointed out in numerous conversations we've had, the insurance industry is a bit of a scam. First, you must remember that most large insurance companies have stockholders and they are obligated, by law, to do their best to make money for those stockholders. This means that insurance companies are making money (gasp!). And this means that, statistically, most policyholders are going to give these companies more money than they will ever receive from a claim. If an individual has any self control they should instead, just put aside the payments they would make to the insurance company and keep it in case they need it for an unforeseen emergency. And if you never need it, then you still have your money! The only instance in which this wouldn't work is, if something happened before you saved up enough to deal with it and it would have been covered under whatever insurance policy that you can afford. Although it does happen, statistically, this is unlikely for obvious reasons (the insurance companies are making money). However, many people might think that this is still enough to justify getting insurance. If this is the case, then you are literally betting against yourself! If that's not thinking like a victim, then I don't know what is.
The victim mindset is, in many ways, rooted in fear. Fear, like all human emotions does have its place and function. It's only destructive if it's used improperly or in excess. One way to alleviate fear and thus rid yourself of the victim mindset is to try to think logically or use some form of reasoning. The first step in reasoning out any situation is to try to understand and accept all of the facts of that situation whether you like them or not. An example of this might be the fact that life's not fair. Many people in the victim mindset like to complain and feel sorry for themselves when they feel they haven't been treated fairly. A predator would accept that as a part of reality, and undeterred, move on; secure in the knowledge that even though the world is not fair they will find a way to navigate through it anyway. A predator is resourceful, believes in their own abilities and understands that there is often more than one approach or way to get things done. He knows that what he didn't win today, he can always win tomorrow.
This principle can also be applied to accepting the idea that you, as a human, are never safe. This world is not meant to be safe; it's meant to be challenging and it's those challenges that define us most. All types of terrible things can happen to us at any given time and that's just how it is. It's in how we deal with these things that reveals what we're truly capable of. We must understand that either we will be able to deal with these things as they come or we won't. Living in fear of these possibilities or trying to seek unreasonable levels of safety is just a waste of precious time and effort; and will not accomplish anything. Of course, we should always assume that we are capable of handling anything that life throws our way; if, for no other reason, because we have no choice but to do so.
Another technique for getting into the predator mindset is to try not to sympathize with people who are obviously victims. This can be somewhat challenging, as victims do tend to inspire more sympathy in most people (assuming you're not including dark, Darwinist, sadistic bastards; I can't really be sure how many of us there are out there), but this type of exercise can also help to put some of your own fears into perspective. A good example of this occurs to me when people warn me about walking late at night. Naturally, they see some danger in my outings, particularly in the form of human predators (criminals). To them, the idea of walking around, in relatively secluded or inactive areas at that hour, is an invitation for getting mugged. This makes sense if you think about it from a victim's perspective. However, when I think of things from the perspective of a potential mugger, these fears seem a little more exaggerated. If I wanted to mug someone, I would not be hanging around in the types of areas that I walk in and at the times that I do it. Predators go where the pray items are. Even an incredibly dumb mugger wouldn't spend hours waiting around an area that has no people in it, on the off chance that some lone person might pass by there, at some point in the night. This means that despite the victim perception, I'm probably more likely to get mugged in an area with a higher population of human traffic than a place where there is literally no one out and about but me.
And by trying to imagine what it would be like to be a mugger and seeing someone like me (a 6ft.2, 200 pound man wearing all black, walking around in a dark place at 3:00 AM), I can imagine that there might be some hesitation on my part to approach this individual. This is just one example of how putting ourselves in the shoes of any hypothetical threat can alleviate any irrational fear we may be feeling. Whether it be a government shadow agency, the head of a multibillion dollar international corporation or just a run of the mill street thug, I think we can safely say that being a enemy to society can be much more difficult than many might have us think (the victim mindset is a great mechanism for control, as it is in many organization's best interest to keep everyone scared; fear is profitable).
Of course, the most obvious aspect of getting into the predator mindset is to think about yourself and what you want. This will require some selfishness. You must learn to approach life with the attitude that you are going after what you want and there is no need to stress about trying to maintain what you have; you are powerful and clever enough to maintain what you have without much effort. As a predator, you are in control. And thinking of yourself as a powerful being, who is in control of your own fate, is probably the most important aspect of the predator mindset. You are fighting for success, not merely survival. This may require a "fake it 'til you make it" approach. Yes, I'm saying that you may have to lie to yourself (assuming you don't currently believe this in any way). Think of it this way, would you rather lie to yourself about your own power or have others lie to you about your weakness? This also means you must avoid associating yourself with victims and their "causes". Predators are focused and productive beings who worry about themselves and don't like to get caught up with larger "issues" and manufactured injustices. Take a look at my "Controlling Your Surroundings" rant for some general ideas about how to program yourself into this mindset.
I'm sure that my fellow villains out there will understand the benefits of the predator mindset for multiple reasons. The truth is that anyone (in theory) can think like a predator. It is a completely internal or psychological stance that can lead to real, external power and action. And, in its purest form, the predator mindset can become a point of personal pride (you'll begin to feel disgusted when you see the weakness of the victim mindset in yourself or others and you'll refuse to allow yourself to slip into it). The importance of this attitude is illustrated by the fact that it was the inspiration for our first line of products; Predator or Victim? (Come on, you knew I was going to plug that at some point; why fight it?) For those of you who wish to "make a difference" in the world, I suggest the predatory approach for you as well. It really annoys me how many people try to make large, positive, social changes when they are completely unable to even get their own, personal, shit together.
As I pointed out in "The Horrors of Guilt" rant, if everyone was able to maintain a certain level of personal responsibility, then there would be no need for a concept like social responsibility. Focus on improving yourself first! If you're savagely proactive about pursuing your passions and desires, then there's a chance that you might one day be successful enough, in one respect or another, to be in a position to truly make a difference. You won't just be "a part of the solution"; you will be the solution! But you can't get there if you're unable to bring some stability, control and worthwhile pleasure to your own existence. Victims are at the mercy of the world and predators are masters of it. Learn to get what you like, or you'll be forced to like what you get. And for all of you predators out there: don't worry about everyone "converting" as a result of this rant, thus leading to a mass food shortage; it simply won't happen. There's a meal born every minute.