When I opened the morning’s paper, the headline read, “Hassan Portrays Himself As Victim.” My first response was, “When will they stop badgering us with this violent and horrible crime? Why the constant images thrown across our early morning thoughts, and breakfasts?”
Because, perhaps, we are so drawn to the idea of victimhood, for others and for ourselves. “I would not have been so unreasonable, so angry, so violent if I hadn’t been badly treated.” It’s the cry of humanity over and over. People fight to “establish their freedom and integrity,” in families, in communities, and in countries.
Our country continues two costly wars and maintains itself as the greatest defense spender in the world to protect our independence, integrity and freedom. We make huge sacrifices of human life, financial resources, and development to rid ourselves of being victimized. Because “they did this to us.”
I remember the cry of unfairness and self-pity turned to anger at the attacks on September 11, 2001. Yes, they were shocking and unbelievable, but an irresistible opportunity to proclaim our innocence and right to rage out. And so we did, and continue the rage, yet questions linger for years about the proportion and cost. Striking out in rage and anger always brings second thoughts and questions of why. Yet each time of remembrance or visitation to a site, with tears and angst, we tend to vow, “But I will pay them back whatever the cost!”
In the 12 century, I believe it was Thomas Aquinas, the great theologian committed to reason, who wrote up reasons and rules for a “just war.” One of the boundaries was, “Never destroy more lives than were taken in the aggressor’s attack.” That boundary was crossed the first day of the raid into to Afghanistan. Raging back out of the sense of victimhood easily crosses the boundaries of reason and sense.
When the awful attack occurred on the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April, 1995, I gathered two days later with a group of folks to read and discuss the book, A Course in Miracles. We soon were discussing the awful rage of the young man from Pendleton who had committed such violence out a sense of being victimized. Suddenly a visiting minister stopped us and said, “I am not concerned so much now about the hatred in the young man’s mind who did this awful deed, but with the sense of hatred and victimization I feel in my own mind and heart.” He was “spot on” as it could be said today.
Certainly the rage felt in Mr. Hassan’s heart was unreasonable and extremely irresponsible in his over the top actions. However hard he may cry “foul” from being a victim of a nagging wife, he no doubt will bear a dear price for his irresponsible actions. But may I learn a renewed lesson; “I am never a victim of circumstances except by my own choice. God made me free as Spirit, Eternally One and Strong and I need defend and rage out against nothing.”
I can also monitor my thoughts and actions each day, noticing my sense of playing the victim card, for myself and others. My thoughts are powerful; they are sent to other hearts and minds which in turn may enact horrible deeds supported by my climatic controls and atmosphere. I may never pull the trigger, light the fuse, or grab the knife, but others may well act for me, supported by thoughts of hatred, separation, and specialness.
Today, I again affirm new that I am not now, not then, or ever will be a victim. Living in this world was my “tiny mad idea,” as the Course so clearly says, not God’s. I chose this dream, I made my bed here, but I can rise again in the resurrection of enlightenment and understanding. I can be free, regardless of my circumstances of poor health, poor wealth, poor environment, poor job, poor spouse, etc. etc. May I forgive and be free, seeing myself not confined to a body of water and dust, but as One with Spirit, and ever looking down and around as the “Passerby”, remembering this is but a dream, made beautiful by my forgiveness and acceptance of Who I am.
People such as Hassan and others can be forgiven and experience freedom in the dimension of the Spirit. After all, we are all One in Spirit with each other. On this time plain, he may well pay the heavy price for his actions; imprisonment or even death. On the Higher plain, his wife did not die nor will his Spirit. He and she have the same Eternal Aspect as we all do. May we identify with this Oneness each day, each hour, and despite our apparent loses and prices paid, know we are yet free indeed, in Mind and Spirit, forever.