“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” ― Maya Angelou
I’ve long been a believer in this. Often, we cannot control what happens to us. We may be a victim of something like identity theft, abuse, rape, an accident or a natural disaster. There’s not much we can do about those things if we can’t get out of the way. We are affected by those events. The next steps are up to us, though.
Do we stay in abusive relationships? Do we refuse to file charges? Do we live on hand-outs? Or do we cry about it for awhile, dust ourselves off and get back in there to fight again?
Do we volunteer to remain a victim or do we triumph over those events and become victors?
Understand that when I ask that question, I don’t ask it either lightly or glibly. I’ve been metaphorically kicked in the teeth several times. I am acquainted with the dark side of the street and I know people who know it much better than I ever want to. All of us have chosen to pick ourselves up and get back into the fray.
- I knew a woman whose mother literally sold her for heroin money when she was a child. This same woman was beaten and left for dead beside a road in the Southwest. In pain, she worked everyday and raised her son.
- I met a woman in California who left her native Scotland to escape her abusive husband. She now heads up an organization to teach abused (but victorious) women job skills and to get them clothing appropriate to go on job interviews and to work in.
- Then, there’s John Walsh. I can’t even imagine taking the pain of my child’s murder and using it to catch others. America’s Most Wanted has helped catch quite a few violent criminals. And I, myself, once used a Code Adam to shut down a store when my son, then three, got out of the cart and hid in a round clothes rack.
- And, of course, there’s Richard Hagerman and Donna Whitson whose daughter Amber’s murder led to the creation of AMBER Alerts.
As with anything, there are shades of gray and most of us are Shades of Gray Victims. We are Victors in one area, but Volunteer Victims in another. I was a Victor over Hurricane Katrina. A Victor over an assault. But, a Volunteer Victim to my own bad recordings and beliefs, which led to being a Volunteer Victim to my unhealthy weight and lifestyle for YEARS. I am sure that when I sit down to really examine my attitudes, I will find that I am still a Volunteer Victim to some beliefs. As I find them, I’ll just have to root them out!
If the situation is difficult, unpleasant or not to our liking, we must either change it, change our attitudes about it or change our location. The change likely won’t be easy; but, if the situation is bad enough, it’ll be worth it.
Victimhood has a time limit. Once that’s done, we’re either a Volunteer or a Victor. Our choice.