Merriam-Webster.com defines victim as:
“One that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent: Such as…one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of the various conditions…one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment.”
When I scroll through social media, go to various news outlets (both left and right leaning sources), hear politicians (again from both the left and the right), and hear complaints from various people, what I hear and see if that there are many people who think they are victims.
Maybe we should just admit that we love being offended and seeking out ways to be offended over any number of things. All so we can proudly were a label – “victim.”
Our inconvenience, or our being uncomfortable, makes us a victim. Or so many seem to think.
Never mind that there are real victims in the world. People who actually fit into the definition. People whose actual rights and livelihood are taken away from them or they are actually harmed for a variety of reasons. If we are honest, we’ll admit that we don’t like actual victims, as a society. Actual victims require a response, and it may cause an inconvenience to us. Or cost us money. So we try to push them away or silence them – deepening the hurt that these people have already suffered. Not always, but often.
There are people who think that holding the label of victim means they can be treated as being special – that roadblocks will be removed for them. That they will be privileged. But here’s the thing – privilege and being a victim don’t mix. Usually someone is a victim because of someone else’s privilege. Not always, but often.
Related to this is the idea that there are people who love finding fault with others – especially those they see as enemies or “others,” people who are different from themselves politically, religiously, nationality, language, sexuality, skin color, etc.
Jesus had a suggestion about this:
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.
(Matthew 7:5, NRSV)
There are real victims in this world. People who actually suffer. If you are going around figuring out how you are supposedly a victim, it’s a good sign that you are not.
When people spend a great deal of time looking for the faults in others, it says more about ourselves than about the other person or group. It says we don’t trust the person or group. It says we are threatened by the person or group. And that we are looking for some advantage – we are looking to show how we are victimized by this person or group. And if someone or a group is victimizing others, then their morality is in question. Their humanity is questionable. And if their humanity is questionable, then we can respond by dehumanizing those that make us supposed victims.
All of this is sad, very sad. There are many people who prefer to tear people apart, separate, divide, label, take away a person’s humanity. For what? This isn’t what following Christ is about.
Jesus’ message is about bringing people together, being in community, building each other up, finding what makes us alike. It is also putting a mirror up to our faces and showing us how sinful and broken we are – the mirror shows us how we treat others. Yet Jesus remains. We are shown the mirror – the ugliness that exists within us. And we are called to repent, to stop. To see how broken we are. To see how we can’t stop any of this on our own. Which is why we need Jesus. No matter how hard we try, humanity is broken – we are broken. Nothing we do will fix that. Only Jesus can. And he does. The question is how do we respond? Do we continue in our brokenness and sinfulness – finding ways to put others down? Or do start to see people through a Jesus lens?
We see what the first option gets us – nothing pleasant. The second option is far better. The dark pit within us is shown light. And it lightens us so that we can be light in the world – so that we can show the world the true light.