Victimology vs Personal Responsibility
"So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."1
Chuck Colson reports in Breakpoint how Gregg Easterbrook in his book, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, says that there is as much as a "ten-fold increase in unipolar depression in industrial nations in the postwar era."
After giving one or two other reasons for this increase Colson says, "Another mistaken idea contributing to depression is the 'postwar teaching of victimology and helplessness.' Intellectuals, politicians, tort lawyers, and the media have worked to identify and designate new classes of victims. As Martin Seligman [of the University of Pennsylvania] notes, more and more Americans identify themselves as victims of one sort or another. The result is a sense of helplessness. Americans, especially the young, claim to have less and less control over their lives at the same time that they enjoy unprecedented personal freedom."2
As I've reported on several occasions, in my experience having taught in divorce recovery and relationship classes over the past couple of decades, one of the biggest causes I have seen for failure in relationships is this victim mentality. At least 90 percent of divorcees and those in failed relationships I have worked with primarily blame their partner for their unresolved conflicts, while failing to admit that they shared equal responsibility (even if it was just being too passive and/or too codependent).
Furthermore, almost none even consider what flaw it was in them that caused them to be attracted to their partner in the first place. The reality is we are as sick as the people we are attracted to [or as healthy]. Sadly, as long as people play this blame-game, they will never recover. Even worse, they will continue to repeat their past mistakes. It's either resolution or repetition.
"Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him. Then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, 'This I am today; that I will be tomorrow.'"3
Or we could put it this way, "This is the way I am today. That, by the grace of God, is what I will be tomorrow."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from ever playing the blame-game. Help me always to look for and discover whatever I have or am contributing to any conflict I happen to find myself in. And then, when admitting my problem, please lead me to the help I need to overcome. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Romans 14:12 (NIV).
2. Breakpoint, August 26, 2004 http://www.breakpoint.org/bp-home
3. Louis L'Amour.