Devin Patton

Devin Paton

It doesn’t take long to encounter the sorts of people that can easily be recognized as “victims of life’s circumstances”. A short time spent reading the newspaper, talking with a bitter neighbor, or scrolling through your social media feed provides ample opportunity to encounter the loud shouts inside of a large echo chamber: “BLAME ____ FOR YOUR PROBLEMS. We fill that blank space with a group, individual, or circumstance that immediately relieves us of any responsibility to search within ourselves for solutions.

Victimhood is defined as “the state of being a victim”. Culturally speaking, however, victimhood is the belief that we are not responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is a shifting of responsibility away from ourselves and onto others, and it is damaging our country, our families, and our very souls.

The mentality of victimhood manifests itself within large groups (e.g. political/ethnic groups), familial groups, and self. We see this demonstrated at a macro level by the political “mud-slinging” and blame-shifting occurring presently. The Republicans blame the Democrats for their inability to accomplish their agenda, and vice versa. We blame “the rich” for our poverty, assuming we are incapable of remedying our situation by staying in school, improving our skill set, and picking a devoted and kind spouse with which to raise our children and strive toward financial stability. We blame “factory farms” and agriculture producers for the melting ice caps and hormones in our meat for childhood obesity. Closer to home, we relieve ourselves of personal responsibility for our community by blaming local and state government overreach. We become irritated at a neighbor when a noxious weed pops up on our (far-superior) farm ground. We blame our spouses for our dissatisfaction with our marriages and our children for our short tempers.

If we are courageous enough to take a deep look inside of our own souls, what do we see? Do we see the mark of a heart that embraces responsibility and action resulting in positive change, or are we holding the universe or God responsible for our troubles? Do we blame our past traumas and experiences for our current misdeeds and negative attitudes, or do we take hold of our thoughts and feelings and submit them to our will? Do we believe, like Freud, the behaviorists, and the new-age determinists, that we have no ability to choose our response to stimuli? Or, like the innumerable heroes who have gone before us, do we use our trials as a catalyst for good?

Victimhood leads down a dark path toward tyranny, not just of our own souls, but on a grand scale. Internally, we place the object of our wrath in a position of power over us, dictating our thoughts and feelings. Outwardly, we use divisive and hyperbolic language to describe our perceived oppressors, and the dialogue degenerates to a hate-fueled battle between fools. As we cry out for censorship and “fairness”, we implore our leaders to impose a top-down power-grab as industries and individuals are forced to comply with our idea of “fairness”. How long until we nationalize entire industries, imprison political dissenters, and use the force of law and gun to silence our opposition?

Those familiar with the authoritarian Communist party regime of the USSR know this top-down approach to social justice does not end well. We remember that more than 100 million people were killed in the 20th century in the name of communism when including China under the rule of Mao Zedong. We remember the Gulag “re-education” (slave-labor) camps, the mass starvations, and executions for the citizens simply trying to feed their families with a few heads of grain gathered from fields they themselves had planted. We remember abject terror, and we remember that it was an attitude of victimhood and complacency that caused it.

What we need is not another scapegoat. We need real empowerment, integrity, and a strong voice to stand up for our convictions without compromising the humanity of our fellow country-men, family members, and ourselves. We need to recognize that social justice come first from personal justice; from taking control of our own lives and affecting change in the areas within our circle of influence. If we don’t resolve within ourselves to own our own destiny and bear up underneath our burdens to cause some positive change in ourselves and the world, we face a dreary future for our souls, our families, and our nation.

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(1) comment

Satori01

Devin,

What a timely and well written article! It does seem that accountability is losing ground these days. Claiming to be a victim seems to wash our hands of real accountability as you've noted through numerous examples. Also true that this world holds the means for a real victim. What if it were true that one makes a choice, cognitive of desired results or not, that lead up to series of consequences that is ours to own? Accountability in it's purest form.

Cause and effect in the Buddhist perspective is also intriguing and you ever so slightly touched on it. At least that's what came to mind as I read your article. Many other beliefs share this common thread in that generating compassion for everyone with positive thinking and interaction seems to perpetuate a life of happiness.

And maybe less victims.

Cameron M. Albee

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