Being a Victim Ain't Pretty

Victims of the holocaust upon liberation in 1945. Malnourished prisoners at the Mauthausen camp, Austria.
Victims of the holocaust upon liberation in 1945. Malnourished prisoners at the Mauthausen camp, Austria. | Source

Do we ever admire victims? What feeling do we usually give them? What does the stereotype say?

Don't people usually have sympathy for the victim?

If someone suffers at the hands of someone else or from circumstances, they usually receive lots of sympathy and compassion. But notice: there is a big difference between sympathy and compassion. More on that, later.

The victim is at effect and the perpetrator is at cause. But would one ever admire the perpetrator? Hardly!

If we look more closely, we'll see a bit of the perpetrator in the victim, and conversely, a bit of the victim in the perpetrator. There is a continuity with, and a connection between them. The victim holds resentment and frequently harbors a desire for retribution (being a perpetrator to the perpetrator). The original perpetrator is the victim of some unseen hurt or suffering. Both of them are not taking full responsibility for their situation.

Audie Murphy, the most decorated hero of World War II, cited many times and by many governments for his bravery. Despite being wounded in battle, he was never a victim.
Audie Murphy, the most decorated hero of World War II, cited many times and by many governments for his bravery. Despite being wounded in battle, he was never a victim. | Source

Who do we admire?

Heroes? Most certainly we do, but why?

What is it about a hero that sets them apart from others?

They are generous, humble and responsible.

If a hero dies trying to save others, do we call them a victim? Never! They knew what they were getting into—that it contained risks—and they took responsibility for it.

Could responsibility be the key difference? It certainly seems to be part of it.

World War II hero, Audie Murphy, was underage when he joined the military. And yet he became the most decorated soldier in the war.

When asked about one brave act of self-sacrifice and placing himself into harm's way, he merely replied that the enemy were killing his friends. He saw something that needed to be done and he did it.

His love for his friends outweighed the love for his own life.

Compassion vs. Sympathy

Sympathy wallows in the other person's hurt. Compassion cares and offers help. Sympathy ends up pulling the other person down or merely holding them down. That's not very nice. Poor, poor us—let's both be victims together. That kind of togetherness is deadly.

Compassion, on the other hand, is full of love and action. It contains responsibility, but does not dwell on being at effect. Compassion is at cause.

Some people confuse these two—sympathy and compassion—and try to mix them together. What an abomination that creates. The victim is now a victim of confusion.

Show compassion, by all means, but leave sympathy out of it. By your actions, you can help the victim stop being a victim.

Relief

You can help the victim take responsibility for what happened to them. Now, if this sounds disingenuous, think again. This isn't about the victim's guilt for putting themself in harm's way. This isn't that evil ideology used to justify racism, sexism or any form of social abuse.

When a child molester abuses and murders your baby, the last thing on your mind is giving anything to the perpetrator—even the slightest reprieve. How can you or your child be responsible? But is it up to the victim to judge? Can the mob judge in the heat of passion and rage? Never!

How can anyone ever be responsible for anything? By taking the burden out of love!

Love for the evil perpetrator? Why not! This is not love for their actions or the evil they harbor, but love for the lost soul within.

If the victim takes 100% responsibility and the perpetrator takes 100% responsibility, then everyone wins. If only the perpetrator takes this responsibility, then the victim loses. If each party takes only 50% responsibility, both sides lose.

Forgiveness can only occur when the victim gives up their imagined "right" to be a victim. Forgiveness can only occur with full responsibility taken by the victim. Only then can the victim be free of the burden of both the hurt and the resentment attached to it.

A painting of the Sermon on the Mount, by nineteenth century artist, Carl Heinrich Bloch. With the humility of the meek, we can all be heroes and never victims.
A painting of the Sermon on the Mount, by nineteenth century artist, Carl Heinrich Bloch. With the humility of the meek, we can all be heroes and never victims. | Source

Sanity

Remember when Jesus said that he and his Father were one? Perhaps you've never read the Bible. Perhaps you're not even a Christian. But you can still read this important book.

Why is that statement by Jesus important here? The Nazarene teacher was giving us lessons by example. He wanted us to be like him. He wanted us to rise up and to stop being victim. He wanted us to perform miracles, to love one another and to be one with God. Being one with God is how a victim can take responsibility, no matter how seemingly innocent they may have been.

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Comments 8 comments

Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I'll vote up. There is still the question of what to do about 9/11. President Clinton got it wrong and made the world a more dangerous place for the USA and her allies. Not sure what the right answer is. Justice, sure. Understanding why it happened and dealing with that is hard. Forgiveness but still remembering may come in time like the bombing of Pearl Harbor.


Betty Johansen profile image

Betty Johansen 5 years ago

You are dealing with a critical issue in these days of "professional" victims. Your solution is a breath of fresh air - both sides need to take responsibility. There are times when, as a teacher, I want to open a skull and pour in some information. I feel the same way about this issue. People wallowing in their victimhood may feel justified, but they are drowning in their misery. They need this understand poured into their minds!

As I was reading, I was curious - what about empathy? If sympathy merely perpetuates the problem, what does empathy do?

A great read! I enjoyed it and agree with you heartily!


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Rod. You bring up some important concerns. I don't pretend to understand everything about politics. Could you share how Clinton got it wrong? I'm curious.

On the subject of forgiveness, some people don't understand. One friend complained frequently about her alcoholic mother and how it affected her life. She said, "I forgive, but I cannot forget." Well, there seems to be several meanings of "forget." I would highly recommend "forgetting" if it means letting go the connection to the source of resentment. By forget, I do not mean anything close to "amnesia!" No way!

Without memory, we cannot have wisdom. And wisdom would have protected them at Pearl.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Wow, Betty! What teachers have to go through! Many teachers can be counted as my heroes.

Empathy by one definition is, "Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives." Understanding is always good. This part of empathy works for me. The "identification with" part troubles me. Too often, this "identity" results in wallowing in the negative feelings or situation. This is too close to sympathy and some may cross the line from compassion to pity. That's not good. But one could easily say, "That happened to me," or "something similar happened to me," but they don't have to wallow in the hurt or be burdened by the resentment. The key, here, is in selfishness versus selflessness -- or self-importance versus humility.

Thanks, Betty. Your question helped me get a better look at this. Very nice!


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

lone77star if you are looking for those who masterminded 9/11 and you want to keep the USA safe then you bump up your knowledge of the area where you suspect the masterminds are hiding. You get Muslims on side. You create an air of co-operation between US intelligence agencies and make sure they share information. You check out what your allies are doing. Maybe their intelligence outfits have a handle on a few things yours don't. This is what you do. It may take years and it isn't a very dramatic solution but I reckon it will get results.

What you don't do is start a war in Iraq and then invade Afghanistan. You stir up the ants nest and the people you really want to put a stop to see you coming a mile away and they bolt. Plenty of places to bolt to in Afghanistan. Then there's Pakistan. Innocent people along with the rat-bags get killed in a war situation. The innocent make you look bad and the enemy uses this to recruit followers all over the world. Your people and those of your allies also suffer loses. There has been great expense and lose of live well over a decade after all this began and the end result hadn't been met yet. What's more, we have the Muslim world, to some extent, off side and this did not have to happen.

I believe Clinton wanted all the fuss and feathers that war brings but it really hasn't done the USA any good. As for Australia, we have lost soldiers and continue to do so. Not good. Clinton may have got it right for himself but certainly wrong for a LOT of people.

As for Pearl Harbor, listening to the right people who were saying the Japanese are up to something would have been good. Better intelligence back then and listening to good intelligence would have helped.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Rod, I understand the wisdom you're suggesting. Good stuff, but what does President Clinton have to do with this? 9/11 came nine months after his presidency ended. George Bush was the cowboy who wanted to take decisive action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yeee-hah! Go get'um, cowboy!

I'm from Texas, but George W. was, for me, an embarrassment as president. I no longer lived in Texas, when he was governor, but I don't like the fact that he helped overturn the previous governor's veto of a law to permit concealed handguns for Texan citizens. I suppose if you trust all Texans, then such a law should be okay.

I have heard "theories" that Pearl was allowed to happen so that the then current establishment would have justification to enter the war. What a calculated risk that would have been, if true. The longstanding isolationist policies in effect at the time did hamstring America's involvement, and some politicians felt frustrated by them.

There may have been many motivations behind the scenes -- like big oil may have been behind Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the lucrative contracts went to supposed friends of the Bush administration. Interesting what greed will have people do.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

It was Clinton's policies that were still keeping the various intelligence agencies in the US at loggerheads with one another. Yes, George Bush was the main instigator of the madness. Yes you are right that war was of more use to Bush and that I got the time frame wrong. Late at night I suppose.

I too have heard theories that Pearl Harbor was allowed to happen. It would have been one hell of a calculated risk if true.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks Rod, for explaining. Clinton set the stage and Bush took the credit (or blame). Not a very pretty combination.

Being perpetrator is just as ugly.

I appreciate the dialog.

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