This article from National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez recounts a touching encounter she had with a very broken woman and brings thoughtful reflection on how best to bring hope to those that need it.
It’s a good read that highlights the numerous ways groups like Catholic Charities support those in need, but also ponders what we as individuals can do to help. It quotes Mother Teresa who once said, “In this world, we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” I cannot think of a more simple, yet powerful concept on how to live and how to love by brightening your corner of influence.
I was also struck by how much the woman in the article, Cynthia, is a victim in the truest sense of the word. How she got there and if poor choices contributed to that didn’t concern me, but her present state did. Abused, repeatedly raped and completely crushed in spirit, she was in dire need of someone caring enough to help. Thankfully the author did which hopefully got the ball rolling for Cynthia to get connected with the appropriate support services.
Unfortunately there are many living life on the fringes like this, who don’t get that chance. They’re like zombies struggling just to survive another day in a war zone filled with unspeakable acts of violence and shame. Mental health, addiction, abuse and just plain bad luck all play a role and can render someone completely helpless to get themselves on a better path.
These people are real victims with real problems who desperately need a society willing to strive for creative and fresh solutions; to replace the default enable and ignore mode we’ve been stuck on for decades.
Yet too often the priorities of a perpetually outraged grievance industry overshadow the plight of these life on the fringe people, assigning victimhood status for the most trivial of ordeals.
Don’t like the political views of a guest speaker on campus? Well then you’re a victim of scary words that make you feel uncomfortable and you require a “safe room” for protection.
Are you a minority that feels slighted after your white professor marks up your term paper? Microagression victim status for you then and a possible lawsuit against the professor.
Or are you a working woman who wonders why you’re not getting paid as much as your male friend with the same job title? Why it’s our patriarch society and its inherent oppression of women of course. It has nothing to do with the fact that your friend works longer hours than you because you requested weekends off with the kids. You are a victim!
I could go on but the point is that claiming the victim mantle or encouraging others to do so for the most casual of offenses does much harm. Not only does it belittle the experiences of those who’ve suffered horrifically, it defers attention, resources and talent from helping and finding better solutions. Instead of serious political discussions on mental health, violence and homelessness, we get incessant blathering from politicians about a fictitious “war on women”.
Society also loses out because people steeped in victimhood mentality are often so focused on their personal issues there is little room for much else. Thus other causes get ignored while this “victim” battles the perceived injustices being done to them, falling further in to a learned helplessness, which is the most tragic aspect of all.
This is when a person thinks everything that happens to them is outside of their control and so why bother to change anything. If you’re convinced that the unhappy or unsatisfying parts of your life are the fault of someone else than you’re never going to take the steps needed to improve things.
We all go through suffering of course and life certainly is not fair in doling it out. Some deal with tremendous obstacles throughout their existence while others seem to coast happily along. It’s imperative though to keep things in perspective. The more responsibility you take for your own life and the choices you make, the stronger you become and the better able you are to help someone truly in need. The Cynthias of this world are waiting for you.