Friday, February 19, 2010

The Anatomy of a Victim

After my last blog post in which I made a call to action for Christians to step up and do more to care for their fellow man, and laid out my views concerning the incompatibility of Christianity and Socialism, I have done a lot of thinking.

I was not at all surprised that quite a few people didn’t agree with what I had to say.  I was, however, a bit taken aback at the few who felt the need to not only disagree, but attack and insult me. 

So I mulled some things over – would there be a way for me to express my views in a way that wouldn’t rub some people the wrong way?  How could I reach out to all readers, how could I ensure that everyone who reads my blog would walk away happy?   Should I be more politically correct – is that the answer for me? 

I pondered how I might write this next post so that nobody could possibly take offense.  But I have come to the conclusion that broaching the subject matter at hand in a politically correct way would so whittle away at the heart of my message that there would essentially be nothing of value left for me to say.

So if you are easily offended and have a tendency to lash out at people you disagree with, I would ask that you either read no further, or keep your vitriolic comments to yourself.  Perhaps you might start your own blog where you can express your opinions, as I do here on mine.

Comments from thoughtful, well-intentioned individuals, whether in agreement with me or not, are completely welcome.


With that out of the way, I wanted to discuss another relatively touchy matter – one that might tick some people off, but one that must be addressed within the topic of Socialism and government assistance to the poor and disadvantaged.

If you happen to be an enthusiastic backer of government assistance, please don’t jump to conclusions about me and where I am coming from.  Yesterday I saw a video clip on an online newspaper showing a Conservative, anti-government healthcare rally.  I saw a man with a picket sign who was screaming – “No free healthcare.  Get a job!”  I was disheartened at what appeared to be disdain for the unemployed.

I don’t disdain the poor and needy.  Neither do I feel the need to brag about myself and my own charitable endeavors.  My viewpoints on helping the poor should be clear enough from my last post – we the people have a responsibility to care for those less fortunate than ourselves!  I practice what I preach.  I believe that a lot of people doing something can really make a difference.

Someone made the comment on my last post that my arguments “demonstrate[] the odd and unquestioning adherence . . . to the American myth that assumes the poor exist because of poor choices, and the rich because of wise choices (when in fact, it's usually the other way around . . .)”.

Yes, as a matter of fact, many of my arguments against Socialism do rest on the principle that there is something that poor people are doing that is causing them to be poor, and there is something that the rich understand that is causing them to be rich.

People who are happy are doing something that is causing them to be happy.  People who aren’t happy are doing something that is making them unhappy.  Sometimes crappy things happen.  But don’t we see examples of people who find a way to be happy in spite of horrific circumstances?  These are the people who inspire authors, filmmakers, and everyday people like most of us! 

To me, it’s just about as preposterous to believe that people who are poor got there because of wise choices and rich people became rich through poor choices (as my commenter argued), and that the poor people deserve the wealth of the rich, as it would be to assume that chronically unhappy and crotchety people are really the ones who deserve to be happy in life – let’s steal the happiness from the happy and give it to those who are miserable!

I certainly don’t believe that blaming depressed, economically-disadvantaged people for their circumstances is the answer either.  This life can be challenging, to say the least!  A whole lot of people have been through a whole lot of hell!

On December 31, 2005 I stayed up late with some friends to see in the New Year.  This New Year’s had a special significance for me – I had no sadness or nostalgia in watching 2005 slip away in the night.  2005 was my year of personal hell, and watching it die to make way for 2006 gave me pure delight!

Though others have certainly been through worse, 2005 was the culmination of a string of several really bad years for me.  It was the pinnacle of suckiness to which my life reached; it was a year that tried me like no other. 

I was an overachiever, and in 1999 I suddenly found myself laid up with a mystery illness that claimed my enthusiasm, my energy, my personality – my ability to function effectively as a contributing member of society.  By 2004, it had seemed my life had taken a turn for the better with a few positive developments including marriage, which I had long awaited (I was 29). 

But in 2005 it all came crashing down.  The wretchedness of that year was profound to me.  Ongoing physical disability, the pain and humiliation of separation and divorce, losing my health insurance, debt, underemployment, having no real address for almost the entire year, and more . . .  In short, 2005 sucked in a broad, all-encompassing, multi-faceted kind of way.  I even had two freak car accidents in which my car was hit and banged up by other people under somewhat bizarre circumstances!  I was just waiting for the next bad thing to happen . . .

At age 30, I was forced to rely on the mercy of my parents and friends.  Age 30!  I had not envisioned spending the better part of my 20’s as a financial and emotional leach, and could never have guessed that by age 30 and with my two Master’s degrees, I would be so reliant on the help of others and only able to make $600-$800 per month cleaning a wealthy lady’s house and care-giving for a 90-year-old (this job was great – I got paid to take naps when she did!). 

Though my life never sunk to levels faced by Auschwitz detainees or child prostitutes (thank the heavens!!!), I would never wish my 2005 on my worst enemy.

But 2005 was also a blessed year.  It was the year I learned something that has changed the course of my life forever, and led to many of the good things I now enjoy in my life!  Without this realization, I am quite certain I would still be sick and completely broke, and I am beyond sure that I would still be deeply unhappy.

I was reading a book that a friend gave to me, and I read this quote –

“If you want to know what your deeper beliefs are, look at your life and it will tell you.  Life is a mirror reflecting back at us what we believe about ourselves.” (Remembering Wholeness, p. 24) 


But what a blessed awakening!

I can’t adequately describe how empowering it was for me to realize that I was not a victim of my ex-husband’s choices, chronic fatigue syndrome, or anything or anyone else!  I was not a victim!

I chose out of victimhood.  I forgave those who had hurt me (I believe this is the KEY to moving from victimhood to empowerment).  It was a miracle!  And it was the beginning of a total revolution in my life!  I was able to start taking responsibility for the things that were showing up in my life, and then things started showing up that I really wanted.

In September of 2005, I got about 95% of my health back in one week after 6 years of having the stamina of a sick 80-year-old.  I got a full-time job a few months later.  I bought a house.  I started a business, and eventually another two. 

I have had my ups and downs since 2005, and do to this day because I am a human being living on planet earth.  I still have rough days like anyone else -- and still have junk in my trunk. 

I don’t feel sorry for people any more.  But I do feel empathy.  My old tendencies of wanting to rescue people (as well as wanting to be rescued myself) are dying.  Good riddance!

I don't see the poor as victims, but as people who need to be taught principles that govern wealth and given the opportunity to operate in these principles.  Sick people aren't victims either -- they stand in need of learning the principles that govern health, and then need to put them to use.

Though someone standing on a ledge of a 20-story building needs someone right then to talk them out of jumping, someone starving to death needs food immediately, and a person in cardiac arrest needs CPR and medical attention now more than anything else, most of us on any given day are in no danger of dying if we’re not rescued from our problems.  In fact, in some cases the rescuing can do more damage than not!

People with a track record of failed relationships don’t need the perfect person to come along and rescue them from their sad and lonely state as much as they need to learn the principles that govern happy relationships and practice those principles right where they’re at!

People up to their ears in debt don’t need a bailout from their debt as much as they need to learn the principles that govern sound finances, and put them into practice now.

People with health problems don’t need free health care with prescription drug benefits as much as they need to honestly assess what they can do to change so that they can heal, and then take action! 

People living in squalor, poverty, and illiteracy don’t need someone to hand them the keys to a brand new house with a well-stocked refrigerator as much as they need someone to teach them how to read, how to work, and how to manage their life, and then to be given the chance to rise up. 

Tragedy seems to beget tragedy.  I have personally experienced to a certain extent the downward spiral that can take place when one tragedy or difficulty leads to another, which leads to another.  People need help to get out of the hole.

And I was helped tremendously by family and friends -- I owe them my eternal gratitude!  But if I hadn’t taken it upon myself to learn principles of healing, of forgiving, of debt-reduction, of success in business then I could very well still be in the hole I was in 5 years ago.  No government program could have taught these things to me.  When I, the student, was ready and humbled to the dirt, then the teachers appeared.  .

Getting out of a hole appears to come as a result of some combination of personal desire, resolve, and action, the assistance of others, and Divine Grace.  Any assistance that negates the personal responsibility of the individual to do his/her part, or the role of Divine Grace in lifting people up out of a pit is not only inadequate, but totally misleading as well.

Some people reading this may not be in to this whole “Divine Grace” thing.  If that is you, then you probably have your reasons for feeling that way and you are more than welcome to disagree with me.  But I doubt there are many people who would argue that personal responsibility to move past dysfunction and tragedy isn’t absolutely essential in rising out of an ash heap no matter who is willing to assist, and how much!

From my perspective, in societies where Socialism is practiced, there is an underlying assumption that people are victims and must be rescued.  The masses must be cared for and nurtured through government programs in order to achieve happiness and security in life.  

Instead of making people into victims as we attempt to provide help, let’s give immediate help to those in immediate danger, and take action to teach everyone else the principles that will help them rise up themselves.

To be continued . . .

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post, Julie. Absolutely spot-on. "Teach people correct principles, and they will govern themselves" ~Joseph Smith. I might add, and teach them to teach others, that all might benefit, be edified, and rise up to change the entirety of society. Anyone looking to cross the bridge from victim to the other side needs to go to