A Nation of Victims   Several years ago, I sat in a classroom where the professor from India was discussing the history of Christian missionary work in the third world. He made it to only about the second or third sentence in his lecture when he noted that third world (two-thirds as he called those regions of the world) individuals were victims of a colonial mentality and a hand shot up in the middle of the room. One of the first things you learn in college is students often are more concerned with their own agenda than listening to what the professor is trying to say. It was a young woman. The professor called on her and she replied, “I think it is important to note that women are also victims of patriarchy and colonialism.”   The professor nodded, affirmed her statement, and was about to continue on with his lecture when another hand went up. It was a young gay gentleman who also wanted it known that gays have also been victims. Then an African-American woman raised her hand to affirm her claim of victimhood. Pretty soon other hands were going up. The professor had lost total control of the classroom, and knew it, as others wanted it known that they were victims as well. Of the thirty students there, I was the only one that had not made a claim of victimhood. [Pub. note: Trevor is a victim of shyness.] As if wanting to include me, he said, “Trevor, you’re a victim as well, a victim of the patriarchal and colonial attitudes that have defined and colored your world.”   Ever since that day, I have been fascinated by how people cling to the status of victim, even people who might not be seen as victims. There is something about the victim mentality that is so attractive. I started to wonder why.     A mentor of mine named Fred Craddock tells the story of a vacation cabin in the mountains that he owned. It was a place that his wife and he went to relax and regroup. Then a new neighbor moved in down the road. He never met the neighbor, but the peace and quiet of their mountain retreat became disturbed by the show of gunfire. The man had set up a shooting range for himself on his property. Gun after gun, bullet after bullet echoed in the air breaking the spell of everything they enjoyed. Boom, boom, boom, boom, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day. Boom, boom, boom!   His wife and he even had to change the path they used to walk every night because it would take them past their new neighbor’s place. In the front yard were two aggressive dogs that would growl and lunge against the fence. The fence would sway with the force of the dogs hitting it and in Fred’s mind he was sure that at some point it was going to buckle and they would be on the wrong end of the fangs that glistened and snarled at them.   Fred began to hate his new neighbor even though he` had never met him. The man with the guns had destroyed everything with his noise and dogs. A depressing cloud surrounded their cabin, the place they used to love so much, to the point that Fred and his wife debated whether they should sell the place. Boom, boom, boom!   Then one evening a massive storm hit the area. It took down the power and the telephone lines. They could see the wires dangling in the middle of the road. In the morning, Fred’s wife suggested he walk down to their new neighbors and ask if he could use their phone to call the telephone and electric companies to report their problem.   It was a hard walk to make. The rabid dogs bounced off the fence and it heaved under the shock. Fred stood at the gate and called out to get the attention of the occupants inside. A haggard-looking woman came out onto the porch and called the dogs over to her. Grabbing the canines by their collars, her grip not nearly as tight as Fred would have liked, she beckoned him to open the gate and come up to the porch. He explained the problem, she told him to go inside, and she would get him the phone as quickly as possible.   Fred stood in the living room, while she disappeared to get the phone. Looking at the wall in front of him, there were the guns, gun after gun after gun, the instruments that fractured their joy, the wall filled with them. Boom, boom, boom! Fred felt a bit of anger rise up in his throat. Here were the guns, the disturbers of the peace. In the midst of the guns on the wall was a picture of the man and his wife standing at the front of the church on their wedding day. She looked like she had aged a lifetime since the photo was taken even though it could not have been more than ten years ago.  Fred looked at the man in the photo and he hated him. “What do you want?” said a gruff voice coming from a doorway to Fred’s right.   Fred turned. There was the man who fired the guns, the one Fred had come to hate. The man wheeled his wheelchair into the room. Fred looked at this crippled man who once could have walked and all the anger inside of him vanished. He thought, as he looked at the man in the wheelchair, that maybe, if he was in a chair he would need some big guns that he would fire over and over again until one day he worked up the courage to turn the gun on himself. Boom, boom, boom! “What do you want?”   Do you see what Fred did? He forgave the man of his crimes because he saw him as a victim. Victims are to be forgiven. Their crimes are not their fault. If a person is a victim he or she is not responsible for their conduct, actions or crimes. We all know people that spend their entire lives as victims of how their parents treated them as children, even when those parents had died decades ago. It is why people who are on trial for monstrous things often portray themselves as victims. O.J. Simpson claimed there were times that he felt like “an abused husband.” Murderers Erik and Lyle Mendenez claimed they were victims of their parents. Abusers weepingly recount how their were abused as children themselves. The Twinkie defense.  All of this is in a bid to say that they are not the bad guys. They are not wearing the black hats. They must be forgiven or found innocent from the full weight of what they have done.   In this last election cycle, Donald J. Trump loved portraying himself as a victim. It was almost his whole campaign. His attacks and Tweets against the Pope, John McCain, beauty queens, female news anchors, Rosie O’Donnell, and the Republican Party itself were not his fault. The awful things he said had to be forgiven because he was a victim. They started it. Implying that Ted Cruz’s father killed John Kennedy, Donald did not do anything wrong. Ted started it. The polling system was rigged against him, filled with an army of mysterious illegal voters out to get him.  The press, who at one point gave more time to Trump’s empty podium than his opponents, were biased against him. The protestors across America did not hit the streets out of concern for his rhetoric. No, no, no, professional agitators.   Donald J. Trump, now the most powerful man in the world, is even the victim of a comedy sketch show on Saturday nights and a Broadway musical that maybe two or three hundred people see every night. He is the victim of people that misunderstood his creepy conduct with Billy Bush, of women who clearly were not 9s or 10s that claimed he groped them, of people that feared he might use his new office to increase his wealth, and even an Indiana-American born judge because of that judge’s Mexican heritage.   His rhetoric was geared towards a people that want to see themselves as victims. They are victims of illegal immigrants and that is why we need to build a big, beautiful wall and make Mexico pay for it. They are victims of bad trade deals, victims of lawless African- Americans, victims of a mainstream press, victims of homosexuals wanting to get married, victims of Muslims wanting to kill them in their sleep, victims of transsexuals wanting to use their restrooms, victims of Hillary Clinton, victims of political correctness, and victims of an America that is increasingly no longer looking like themselves.   The problem with a victim mentality is that it transforms individuals from actors to reactors. The other dictates your conduct. They have all the power, you don’t. Torture becomes acceptable. Ideals such as all men being created equal get thrown out the window. Talk about making up lists becomes commonplace. Laws are passed that take away people’s rights rather than celebrating them. Victimhood forces an “us vs. them” mentality to foster where common ground could have been found.  It limits your possibilities and takes away your freedom. It becomes a sick, sick, self-defeating attitude.  Rather than taking control of their lives, people can relax in the hammock of non- responsibility. It also cheapens real victimhood. When everyone is a victim, things cannot change. It becomes a tit for tat world and nothing can ever change. I will not be a victim of that kind of world, nor should anyone want to live in a nation of victims.  
A Nation of Victims   Several years ago, I sat in a classroom where the professor from India was discussing the history of Christian missionary work in the third world. He made it to only about the second or third sentence in his lecture when he noted that third world (two- thirds as he called those regions of the world) individuals were victims of a colonial mentality and a hand shot up in the middle of the room. One of the first things you learn in college is students often are more concerned with their own agenda than listening to what the professor is trying to say. It was a young woman. The professor called on her and she replied, “I think it is important to note that women are also victims of patriarchy and colonialism.”   The professor nodded, affirmed her statement, and was about to continue on with his lecture when another hand went up. It was a young gay gentleman who also wanted it known that gays have also been victims. Then an African-American woman raised her hand to affirm her claim of victimhood. Pretty soon other hands were going up. The professor had lost total control of the classroom, and knew it, as others wanted it known that they were victims as well. Of the thirty students there, I was the only one that had not made a claim of victimhood. [Pub. note: Trevor is a victim of shyness.] As if wanting to include me, he said, “Trevor, you’re a victim as well, a victim of the patriarchal and colonial attitudes that have defined and colored your world.”   Ever since that day, I have been fascinated by how people cling to the status of victim, even people who might not be seen as victims. There is something about the victim mentality that is so attractive. I started to wonder why.     A mentor of mine named Fred Craddock tells the story of a vacation cabin in the mountains that he owned. It was a place that his wife and he went to relax and regroup. Then a new neighbor moved in down the road. He never met the neighbor, but the peace and quiet of their mountain retreat became disturbed by the show of gunfire. The man had set up a shooting range for himself on his property. Gun after gun, bullet after bullet echoed in the air breaking the spell of everything they enjoyed. Boom, boom, boom, boom, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day. Boom, boom, boom!   His wife and he even had to change the path they used to walk every night because it would take them past their new neighbor’s place. In the front yard were two aggressive dogs that would growl and lunge against the fence. The fence would sway with the force of the dogs hitting it and in Fred’s mind he was sure that at some point it was going to buckle and they would be on the wrong end of the fangs that glistened and snarled at them.   Fred began to hate his new neighbor even though he` had never met him. The man with the guns had destroyed everything with his noise and dogs. A depressing cloud surrounded their cabin, the place they used to love so much, to the point that Fred and his wife debated whether they should sell the place. Boom, boom, boom!   Then one evening a massive storm hit the area. It took down the power and the telephone lines. They could see the wires dangling in the middle of the road. In the morning, Fred’s wife suggested he walk down to their new neighbors and ask if he could use their phone to call the telephone and electric companies to report their problem.   It was a hard walk to make. The rabid dogs bounced off the fence and it heaved under the shock. Fred stood at the gate and called out to get the attention of the occupants inside. A haggard-looking woman came out onto the porch and called the dogs over to her. Grabbing the canines by their collars, her grip not nearly as tight as Fred would have liked, she beckoned him to open the gate and come up to the porch. He explained the problem, she told him to go inside, and she would get him the phone as quickly as possible.   Fred stood in the living room, while she disappeared to get the phone. Looking at the wall in front of him, there were the guns, gun after gun after gun, the instruments that fractured their joy, the wall filled with them. Boom, boom, boom! Fred felt a bit of anger rise up in his throat. Here were the guns, the disturbers of the peace. In the midst of the guns on the wall was a picture of the man and his wife standing at the front of the church on their wedding day. She looked like she had aged a lifetime since the photo was taken even though it could not have been more than ten years ago.  Fred looked at the man in the photo and he hated him. “What do you want?” said a gruff voice coming from a doorway to Fred’s right.   Fred turned. There was the man who fired the guns, the one Fred had come to hate. The man wheeled his wheelchair into the room. Fred looked at this crippled man who once could have walked and all the anger inside of him vanished. He thought, as he looked at the man in the wheelchair, that maybe, if he was in a chair he would need some big guns that he would fire over and over again until one day he worked up the courage to turn the gun on himself. Boom, boom, boom! “What do you want?”   Do you see what Fred did? He forgave the man of his crimes because he saw him as a victim. Victims are to be forgiven. Their crimes are not their fault. If a person is a victim he or she is not responsible for their conduct, actions or crimes. We all know people that spend their entire lives as victims of how their parents treated them as children, even when those parents had died decades ago. It is why people who are on trial for monstrous things often portray themselves as victims. O.J. Simpson claimed there were times that he felt like “an abused husband.” Murderers Erik and Lyle Mendenez claimed they were victims of their parents. Abusers weepingly recount how their were abused as children themselves. The Twinkie defense.  All of this is in a bid to say that they are not the bad guys. They are not wearing the black hats. They must be forgiven or found innocent from the full weight of what they have done.   In this last election cycle, Donald J. Trump loved portraying himself as a victim. It was almost his whole campaign. His attacks and Tweets against the Pope, John McCain, beauty queens, female news anchors, Rosie O’Donnell, and the Republican Party itself were not his fault. The awful things he said had to be forgiven because he was a victim. They started it. Implying that Ted Cruz’s father killed John Kennedy, Donald did not do anything wrong. Ted started it. The polling system was rigged against him, filled with an army of mysterious illegal voters out to get him.  The press, who at one point gave more time to Trump’s empty podium than his opponents, were biased against him. The protestors across America did not hit the streets out of concern for his rhetoric. No, no, no, professional agitators.   Donald J. Trump, now the most powerful man in the world, is even the victim of a comedy sketch show on Saturday nights and a Broadway musical that maybe two or three hundred people see every night. He is the victim of people that misunderstood his creepy conduct with Billy Bush, of women who clearly were not 9s or 10s that claimed he groped them, of people that feared he might use his new office to increase his wealth, and even an Indiana- American born judge because of that judge’s Mexican heritage.   His rhetoric was geared towards a people that want to see themselves as victims. They are victims of illegal immigrants and that is why we need to build a big, beautiful wall and make Mexico pay for it. They are victims of bad trade deals, victims of lawless African-Americans, victims of a mainstream press, victims of homosexuals wanting to get married, victims of Muslims wanting to kill them in their sleep, victims of transsexuals wanting to use their restrooms, victims of Hillary Clinton, victims of political correctness, and victims of an America that is increasingly no longer looking like themselves.   The problem with a victim mentality is that it transforms individuals from actors to reactors. The other dictates your conduct. They have all the power, you don’t. Torture becomes acceptable. Ideals such as all men being created equal get thrown out the window. Talk about making up lists becomes commonplace. Laws are passed that take away people’s rights rather than celebrating them. Victimhood forces an “us vs. them” mentality to foster where common ground could have been found.  It limits your possibilities and takes away your freedom. It becomes a sick, sick, self-defeating attitude.  Rather than taking control of their lives, people can relax in the hammock of non-responsibility. It also cheapens real victimhood. When everyone is a victim, things cannot change. It becomes a tit for tat world and nothing can ever change. I will not be a victim of that kind of world, nor should anyone want to live in a nation of victims.