Being a Victim Ain't Pretty
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.
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.
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 their self 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.
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.
© 2011 Rod Martin Jr