Saturday, March 19, 2005

Modeling victim consciousness

We have already made our "triangle model" for the consciousness of self mastery: freedom, choice, responsibility at each point, with self mastery at the center. Today's post begins to explore a "counter-model" to this, also a triangle, but filled in differently this time: innocence, tyranny, and blame occupy the points of the triangle instead, with victimhood at the center. It's really kind of a sad triangle, this one, but we need to have a good look at it nonetheless! In the self mastery model, we recognized freedom as a quality of the will. For a person espousing the victim consciousness, the recognition of freedom is overlooked and displaced by the profession of innocence. For the victim consciousness, innocence is desperately claimed and supremely valued as an identity. "I am innocent!" is the mantra of the victim, by definition. While the free will is a veritable fountain of options implying choice, the profession of innocence undercuts choice altogether: my innocence is dependent in large measure on the belief that I had no choice in any given matter or experience. Freedom is allied with choice, but innocence with tyranny, it turns out. Furthermore, alongside that identification with innocence comes a sense of righteousness with regard to one's own position as so staked out: after all, if I am innocent, someone else must be guilty! Now the louder the claim to innocence and the more flagrant the sense of righteousness, the more likely are the underlying pains of guilt, given the irrefutable self knowledge we all posess which demonstrates that we are, each and every one of us, as "petty present day personalities," quite full of evidence heartily contradicting the claim to innocence. That's why, when we remember the story of Jesus intervening for the woman caught in adultery (where was that fellow, anyway?), his invitation that "he who has not sinned should cast the first stone" was enough to insure her safe passage out of the circle formed for her execution. While it is fun to marvel at the stunning agility, speed and simplicity of Jesus' approach to a tricky problem, we musn't forget that one of the conclusions we can likely draw from the scene and from Jesus' lesson is that no one among us is so innocent that the task of judgement could rest safely in any of our hands. Every one of us has missed the mark, and more than once! (So judge not!) But the claim to innocence so deeply entrenched in the victim consciousness always has paired with itself the implication of another's guilt, and a judgment of another. That's why the victim consciousness partners innocence with tyranny, and also with blame. I am innocent, I had no choice, and someone or something else is to blame. Blaming is the opposite of responsibility as we explained it from the perspective of self mastery. As a "responsible self" I take a good look at myself to assess the outcomes and effects of my choices and actions. As an "innocent self," I know as a matter of principle that I would never have chosen to harm someone or cause myself misery. Unable and unwilling to identify my own choices as they bear on an experience, I am left looking for someone or something to blame. Now ignorance, denial, unconsciousness and passivity with regard to our own choices have absolutely no bearing on their ability as causes to create effects. Stuff happens based on my choices whether I am aware of making them or not. And at some level, I am aware of my choices, though I might try to hide them from myself to maintain my mask of innocence to myself and to the world. This is one major root of guilt feelings: the incongruity of one's presentation with the facts. The cure for guilt is responsibility. Guilt is the opposite of responsibility. Guilt is the habit of clinging to one's innocence in the face of pressing facts. Responsibility is the sober observation of the facts in an effort to comprehend the cause-effect relationships between choice and experience. Blame, judgement and guilt are not players in the field of self mastery. They belong to the game of the victim consciousness. Next, we'll expand the conversation of the victim consciousness to identify additional "teammates" in the sad drama: perpetrators and saviors.


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