Recently, I heard a man overheard a man talking at a coffee shop with his friend about Native Americans. He was venting frustration that he couldn’t get a raise with his job because of Government cutbacks on his department. He began talking about how frustrating it was that Native Americans were still receiving Government money from our taking of their land hundreds of years ago. He was sternly exclaiming about how this generation has done nothing but help Native Americans because we give their tribes money, we help with casino’s etc…. His next statement was “Don’t even get me started with the people on Welfare.”
I’m not sure this guy knows it or not but he has just done what he has accused others of doing. He has made himself the victim. I have spent many years playing the victim (I am a Middle Child). I have learned that what I am secretly trying to do, and, I think what we’re all trying to do when we play the victim is to reclaim the power that we feel we have lost. I could easily say to my siblings or parents “I am better than you because you gave me less attention and what I needed.” (which is what a lot of middle children do). Just as the men above felt “I am better than them because they take my hard-earned money.”
My problem with this, and myself, is that what I was and still am living by is not very Christian, but more importantly, it’s not very Christ-like. When we look at the Crucified Christ we see a man who does not blame others for being wrongly crucified. In fact he moves himself to utter “Forgive them, for they know what do.” As Richard Rohr rightly puts “Jesus did the victim thing right. He neither played the victim for his own self-aggrandizement nor did he make victims of other people. He became the liberating and forgiving victim.” On his way to his crucifixion he demoted the use of violence to regain his freedom and explained that violence is not part of his kingdom, it was apart of the kingdoms of this world. Which is what makes the works of Martin Luther King JR, and Gandhi so remarkable. They removed the object of people’s hatred and themselves endured the violence of men like Christ did. Which is so much the point of the Cross. The place where we learn the great injustices of the world and die to end its cycle.
Until we learn to see that we ourselves are the answers to our own problems then we will all fall to the apathetic death of victims. In this way we will never find the true transforming power of the Cross where we learn to forgive and be forgiven. We will always fight with each other to maintain our position of power over the other, even if it’s by maintaining our “weakness” and “powerlessness”. This is the true power of the Church, where we can lead others to the pain of their Cross so they may find the healing powers of the Resurrection.