We all experience victimization, at least from time-to-time – that is part of the human experience. There is a very wide range of victimization that occurs in the world and in our lives. Think of this range along a scale of 1 to 10, which I call the Victim Rating Scale.
Thankfully, many of us can say most ours are experiences of “mundane victimization,” which we might peg on the low end (1-2) of the scale. A driver cuts in front of us on the road; we come down with a nasty cold; a storm ruins our plans for a family outing; a co-worker is late in getting information to us for a report you we writing – all are examples.
At the high end of the range (9-10) is extreme victimization. Those who are victimized by war or oppression or by natural (or manmade) disasters certainly experience the high end of the scale. There are many whose daily lives are bound up in such extreme conditions.
The challenge of responding to victimization came to mind this week as I rode to the airport with my one of my favorite cab drivers, Jean-Paul. He is an immigrant from Rwanda, where he witnessed and lived through the horror of having members of his family – let alone countless friends – killed during the infamous 100 days of Rwandan Genocide in 1994. During those days as many as 1 million people (nearly 20% of the total population) were murdered.
Jean-Paul’s response was to immigrate to Indiana in the U.S. Once established and employed, he was able to save enough to bring his wife to be with him and to start a family. About a year ago they brought his wife’s mother to live with them and their two young children (I had the privilege late last year to meet her when Jean-Paul picked me up to take me to the airport and then take his mother-in-law to her English class). This week he shared with me how his wife is now enrolled in community college in preparation for going on for a 4-year degree in psychology, while he is doing the same in preparation for a 4-year degree in electrical engineering.
During our cab rides, he shares how he has let go of his sense of Victimhood (aided, I am honored to say, by his reading of The Power of TED* – though he had clearly already been taking the approach of a Creator in starting a new life in the U.S.). Instead of responding to his victimization in ways that he could have easily and legitimately chosen – such as bitterness and spite – he and his family have chosen to focus on what they want to create and to remake their lives a baby step at a time.
Jean-Paul is an inspiration and supreme example of a Creator responding to victimization.