When did it become popular to publicly claim the high mantle that one was offended at something that someone else did or said?
When did being offended rise to such a sin that everything else has to stop until the claimed offense is removed?
Do we need to revise FDR famous speech about freedoms – add a new one – freedom from being offended?
Being offended is really popular right now. And those who claim this mantle aren’t just the obvious more liberal leaning folks out there, as parodied by The New Yorker, hardly a bastion of conservatism. Vox also did an article on this aptly titled “I’m a liberal professor and my liberal students terrify me.”
There are other articles about it. The Atlantic published a great article on the Rise of the Victimhood culture. The wonderful thing about this article is that it highlights the fact that victimhood is an equal opportunity venture. There are many conservatives who proudly claim the mantle of victim. The most recent one being Kim Davis who some are claiming is the Rosa Parks of the gay marriage debate. And let’s not forget the many people who feel like the world is going to end if we don’t make English the official language of the country. God forbid you live in a society where multiple languages are the norm, like the rest of the world.
I don’t get it. I never have. I don’t understand why so many people want to be victims. Oh, I hear the cries now – “No one wants to be a victim, they are just finally speaking up.” Maybe.
Maybe some of this has to do with definitions. Many disputes, arguments and wars are ultimately caused because of differing definitions. The Reformation came about in part because Luther and other reformers had a different definition of justification than the Catholic Church. Europe ended up with a Peasants’ War and look how many died as a result. Or you can look at just before the American Civil War – There was a fight over the definition of representation of persons, specifically pertaining to slaves. It was one of the things that ended up pushing the country to war. Definitions are important.
So maybe we need a clear definition of what a “victim” is. Many people throw around the term, but never define what they mean by it.
Being offended has taken on a life of its own. Did you know that you can now be offended at others being offended? Sure, and it actually makes sense in a way – it seems like everyone wants in on the action.
At any rate, what does all this offense and victimhood mean for our American society and culture. I’m not sure. I know this much. As a Christian, I claim a Savior who was a victim. In fact, He was the ultimate scapegoat. I don’t recall Jesus claiming that he was offended by the insults, the beating and ultimately terrible punishment. Instead, he took all of those things and carried them with him to the cross and death. He told others to turn the other cheek. He said to love our enemies and pray for them. He was humble. Hardly a victim mentality. But then again, he was God, so that may be easier for him.
But his early followers could have easily claimed the mantle of victims. They were an oppressed sect of people, who broke away from the majority religion of the day in the area. They could have claimed the mantle of victims – they were literally being crucified for their beliefs. Yet, they didn’t.
They didn’t claim to be holy victims. Or raise the banner of self-righteousness. Jesus spoke out often against self-righteousness – the idea that a person is certain that they are totally correct or morally superior. Such behavior goes against faith and belief in the reliance on God – it’s actually a sin. Unfortunately I see many self-proclaimed victims in our society grabbing public attention to let all with an Internet connection know that they are victims and something should be done about it – yet unwilling to do anything themselves beyond gain fame and potential fortune for their status. It seems that being a loud victim may actually come with some power these days.
Yet, I know that there is another set of victims out there. A quiet set of victims, who live in fear, who have suffered greatly and do nothing to draw attention to themselves or their situation. They live in shame. They live in pain. They live in uncertainty of what the day will bring – more pain and abuse? They live every day re-living the abuse. They are scarred mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. These are the people Jesus calls us to reach out, to walk with, to learn from and to help where we can. These are the people we are called to be Christ’s hands and offer a gentle and healing touch and do what we can to end their victimhood.