An era of perceived victimization


Last updated 11/23/2021 at Noon

I have family members who feel alienated in Oregon, muzzled, unable to speak their minds in what they perceive as a liberal state. After Thanksgiving they will search for property in Florida, to be in the sun and have fun with people who think like they do. They actually used the words “joining our tribe.”

I can honestly say I empathize. I like to think of myself as independent, objective, looking at both sides of an argument. Yet, nowadays, not taking a firm stand is considered weak, unworthy. When others voice strong and differing opinions, I too feel muzzled, unheard, unable to defend myself, and maybe a little unsafe.

We are living in an era of perceived victimization.

I remember a time when friends with opposing views could sit around a table, discuss things, and still remain friends. So I must ask: Is this victimization real, or just so much noise? Victimization invites blame, but now the voices are louder, more vulgar, angrier — amplified by social media platforms and targeted news outlets.

Women still feel they don’t have wage equality or opportunity.

Blacks explain that whites will never understand their experience.

The LGBTQ community voices its indignation at thugs who see them as less than human.

After years of hard work, students no longer believe in the American dream, their debt load unbearable.

Blue-collar workers watched good union jobs go overseas, and then an influx of immigrants taking low-paying jobs, driving their incomes deeper and deeper into the swamp.

The senior who saved his entire life is concerned his life raft is at risk, swallowed by inflation and the entitled druggie living on the streets.

Banks and Wall Street get bailed out, yet the middle-class American owing taxes is threatened with garnishment.

Parents are concerned social media entices confusion concerning sexuality, while those of faith, who used to feel safe in this country, now sense government favors debauchery and weakmindedness.

Some suggest they are persecuted and judged as non-empathetic, closed-minded, controlling.

Victimization is everywhere. The pain is real. Everyone is being told that the other is fake, and only their personal viewpoint, created in an echo chamber of tribal alliance, is real. Does anybody else see the impotent, childhood tantrum in all this — the stomping foot, the angry tears, the screaming, “It’s so unfair”?

Like it or not, we are all moving through this loud, technological new age together. It is our culture now. We no longer live in the 1950s. We are never going back there. Technology has given rise to millions of voices looking for safety, a reflection that says their pain is real.

Pandora’s Box is open. The demons of victimization and blame are free to roam, form alliances, but maybe it’s time to ask ourselves if these shrieking demons are as real as they need to be. I honestly don’t understand those who imply “the other” needs to die. How freaking afraid is someone who suggests that a person with an opposing view doesn’t deserve to live? This is not bravery. This is not righteousness. Plain and simple, it is fear, the need to control a society that feels out of control.

Anger and fear do nothing when it comes to rational decision-making.

I hope we can begin to see this new culture for what it is. Voiced growing pains. It’s ugly, but there is also opportunity here. The other is not a Black person or a white person, a transgender or an immigrant, a congressman or your neighbor; the other is the victimization we create in our own heads.

Fortunately the gods left one more gift at the bottom of that nasty box for Pandora: Hope. Hope brings about the willingness to see and grow. Instead of shouting back in anger, we can stand quiet, listen to the pain and fear, then try to devise solutions for ourselves and others.

I hope that you will join me this Thanksgiving — stand with a quiet, grateful heart. Let others know you will not be pulled into victimization dialogue, and remind your neighbor that you choose to “be a neighbor,” and will never see a fellow American as “the other.”

A portion of my family is moving to Florida. Instead of getting into a debate this holiday, I plan on listening to their excitement while letting them know I’m not the enemy, that Oregon isn’t the enemy. I will suggest that opinions are valid, but so is an open heart. I will miss our conversations.


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