At one time I knew a woman who had been a teenage victim of incest. It was a terrible thing to have happened, and I truly sympathized with her for a while.
But the more I got to know her, the more I realized that she had never dealt with the experience, in spite of years of counseling. Instead she had come to embrace her role as a victim. Many times when making a new acquaintance, she brought up her experience in the first conversation.
She had become a professional victim. It was her claim to fame, and at times it almost seemed like she couldn’t wait to share the news of her past with anybody and everybody she met. It became her excuse for anything that had happened to her in her life since then.
Back in my days running small town newspapers, one of my regular advertisers was a bar, and every week when I went in to collect for their ad, the same guy, about my age, was sitting on the same bar stool, in the same worn out Army fatigue jacket. And he always had the same thing to say: “You know, Nick. You were there too. All of us Vietnam veterans got screwed, and nobody cares. Every month I have to fight for my disability check.” Then he would tell me about his tour of duty working in a motor pool in Da Nang, and how the experience ruined his life.
One day Bad Nick just couldn’t take it any longer, and told him, “You know, I really feel sorry for you. Not because you got your knuckles skinned up working on a truck someplace, but because the single most important thing that ever happened in your life was over 20 years ago, and you’ve been too damned busy whining to get on with your life, or even to get a life!”
I’ve known men who were in heavy combat and were wounded, some more than once, who came home, took off their uniforms, and went on with life. I have tremendous respect for our nation’s veterans, but no patience at all for sandbaggers and whiners.
People, I don’t care if you are handicapped, a woman, a veteran, a minority, a crime victim, or whatever personal cross you have to bear. Get over it!
I can’t tell you how many people I have met who live on some kind of disability because they are too “disabled” to work. But I have seen these same people riding bicycles, playing golf, going out on fishing boats, wandering for hours through swap meets, and doing all kinds of other things that their “disability” doesn’t keep them from enjoying.
The world is full of professional victims, and they make me sick. Your ancestors may have been slaves, you may have been born with birth defects, you may have been drafted, or you may have suffered some terrible calamity in your life. But guess what? So have millions of other people in this world. And yet, every day they get out of bed, put on their big girl panties, and deal with it!
There is a man I love enough to call my brother, who was born with no legs and only one full arm, on which he has only a thumb and part of a finger. But he worked a full career, never asked anyone to feel sorry for him, and never allowed himself to be a victim.
My attorney is a wonderful woman who was left both blind and crippled in a childhood accident that left her walking on crutches for life and with many physical problems. But instead of being a victim, at age 32, as a divorced mother, she decided to follow her dreams and went to college and then law school, graduating magnum cum laude.
I have a relative who was wounded in Vietnam, decorated for valor, and who later was seriously injured again in a parachuting accident, and yet he battled the system to remain in the Army and made it his career. This American hero is a quiet, unassuming man whose body betrays the injuries he suffered in service to his country. But if you were ever to feel sorry for him, I have no doubt he’d slap you into the middle of next week. He’s too busy getting on with life to be a victim.
I respect anyone who can take whatever life throws at them and deal with it. But professional victims get no pity here.
Tags: advertiser, Army, attorney, birth defects, combat, counseling, crime victim, decorated for valor, disability check, disabled, divorced mother, handicapped, law school, minority, motor pool in Da Nang, parachuting accident, physical problems, professional victims, slaves, small town newspapers, teenage victim of incest, veterans, Vietnam veteran, Vietnam War, whining, woman, wounded