If you could only keep one of your four limbs, which one would you choose?
I bookmarked this story a couple of weeks ago. Corporal Todd Love recently ran the Spartan Race, a super-intense, 75 part obstacle course spanning 10.5 miles. He completed it in 5.5 hours…with only one arm, and no legs. Corporal Love lost three limbs in Afghanistan.
That should either inspire you beyond words…or make you feel like a sad sack, like me. This guy is probably doing four times as much with one limb as I am with all four of my limbs.
I’ve been thinking about this story for a couple of weeks now, and just how unusual it is.
Because in our culture, we have a whole lot of victims. We have very few victims like this.
Our Greatest National Export
With the economy in the tank and our industrial production sagging, what is America known for producing these days? What is our greatest export? Is it food? Cars? Energy?
I’d say it’s victims.
Yes, victims. Far and above the ideals of entrepreneurship, of individual effort, of faith and loyalty, our culture seems to produce, reward, and flock to victims. We nurture a victim mentality. We sympathize with victims. Our politicians pander to victims. The rest of us feel neglected and not-pandered-enough-to, so we say “I’m a victim too! I’ve got it at least as bad as that guy!” It’s usually not true. It’s the same way we habitually compare our wealth to the 1% of the population who has more, rather than the 98% who has less.
We don’t have a race to the top anymore. It’s a contest for who has it worst.
You Are Not a Victim, You Are a Human
That’s not to say that people are never really victims of anything. I’d say everyone is a victim at some time in their lives. It might be unfair circumstances, or violent crime, or betrayal by a loved one, or poor health or poverty. That’s all because we live in a fallen world. It’s called being human.
I know that sounds meaner than I intend it. I imagine some of you are getting ready to bark at me about the awful things that have happened to you. I know that some people have had it worse than others. I know most people have had it worse than me.
But what is unusual about our culture is how we want people to stay victims forever. We aren’t encouraging them to rise above the forces that victimized them. We feed people on sympathy and sad looks. We tell them it’s not their fault, but what is a real crime is we tell them there is probably nothing they can do about their lot in life either. We strip them of humanity and tell them “victim” is all they’ll ever be. There is a huge segment of our population that is so used to this, they can’t imaging politicians talking to them any other way, or people looking at them any other way, other than as victims.
Let me ask you, how long has it been that you have thought of yourself as a victim?
You Don’t Have to Be a Victim
That’s why Corporal Love is so unusual. I read his story, and I felt a strange stirring in my chest. It was a feeling I did not at first recognize.
Stories of people who are perpetual victims stir a lot of feelings in others. Sympathy, pity, anger, hopelessness, sadness.
But they never awaken the feeling that I felt when I read about Corporal Love…
The feeling was inspiration.
If you are in the habit of nurturing a victim mentality, a martyr complex, or a woe-is-me attitude, people will feel a lot of things about you. Some people will feel sorry for you. Some people will look at you with curiosity. Others will wonder what your problem is, why you can’t get your act together. But no one will be inspired by you.
We all are victims at some time in our lives. We continue to identify victims after the fact if we choose it.
We have all the victims we need.
We need more heroes. Even if you have to pull yourself off the couch with one arm and no legs, go be a hero today.
What say you? Are we falling in a pit of malaise and victimhood? Or is the world really as unfair as everyone says it is?