The following was written as a response to a comment on the Curmudgeons list about certain groups (minorities, women) portraying themselves as victims.
Thinking of oneself as a victim is unhealthy for both individuals and groups. It is one thing to see the cause of a problem and another to think one is a victim. That is true even when problems are caused by someone or something else. Any psychologist could tell you that.
“We shall overcome” is not about being victims. It is about finding a way to solve problems, which means having the power to do so. Victim-thinking is “I have problems which are caused by something beyond my control. Therefore it is on that something to fix my problem.” This kind of attitude is unhealthy for individuals and for groups.
Psychotherapy is largely a process in which a person has to discover what the problem is; why the problem exists; and how to resolve that problem by one’s own efforts. Your statement reminds me that this applies to groups of people.
Gandhi wrote of the difference between power over and power to. Same thing.
When MLK came to Chicago in 1966, he was turning from dealing with civil rights to dealing with poverty. He worked with our minority communities to open up job opportunities and even bring peace among the gangs. This was called Operation Bootstrap, which should tell you how he was thinking.
Saul Alinsky’s work and works were along the same lines (and useful for anyone or any way of thinking ) and he was one of the most effective activists I know of.
I am sure you know the saying, “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
Whether urban minority or rust-belt underemployed, thinking as a victim solves nothing. Taking responsibility for oneself is the key to solving one’s problems. Of course capital investment, legal reform and government programs can then serve to empower yourself in solving the problem.
I see Trump as a weak person because he always seems to blame others for his problems. People who are of strong character do not think that way.
Disadvantaged groups, as another old saying has it, need a hand up, not a hand-out. On this I seem to agree more with conservatives than with liberals. The problem is that those calling themselves conservative oppose hand-ups as well as hand-outs.
The coal industry is in sunset mode, for example. The way to help those who worked in the mines is not keeping the mines open (which serves the mine owners and not the miners). The way up and out is job training and capital investment in sunrise industries, such as computers. There is a federal program that has been doing this, but the Trump budget has taken most of the funding away from it. (I could look up that program, if you are not aware of it.)
In any case, it is not just those on the left calling themselves vicims. It is just as common on the right. Victim-thinking is a vey real problem throughout our nation. Putting it one one side and denying it on the other is simply unhelpful.