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Morality- Restoring the Common Good - June 23rd

By Jonathan Sacks

June 23rd, 2022

Can We Reason Together - Part III

Chapter 14 – Victimhood

Welcome everyone to the United Methodist Men’s Book Study –

How did we do with last meeting’s challenge:

Rebalancing - Do we use Social Media to only cast stones?

Recap from – Two Ways of Arguing

Not Every issue is a clash between Right or Wrong…

Sometimes it is about choosing between two Strong, but In-compatible ideals

Arguing using the concept “FOR THE SAKE OF HEAVEN”

Using this concept allows us to consider first the other argument, to study it and then our

own argument. Understanding that even the scripture may be interpreted in multiple ways.

This concept allows us to reframe the disagreement with a unifying idea, that both

arguments may be the truth, but that one may better represent “The words of the living


Intellectual Arrogance must be stopped at the beginning: “Knowing that I am right and

therefore You must be wrong.”

Populism -

Deadly now as just as it was in Moses time.

Populism is the politics of ANGER and not about TRUTH.

What are the root causes of Populism:

Distribution of rewards (wealth) is unfair

When leaders work for their own financial or other interest, instead of the people

they are to serve.

Perception of large scale immigration.

How Do Populists Operate?

Populist leaders claim that they alone are the voice of the people

That they alone can solve the “problems”

Stir up resentment to the “establishment”

Deliberately Divisive and Confrontational

For the Sake of Heaven

Why the the way they are argued Is Important

When we have a fundamental difference, it is not wrong to argue, but we must argue for

the sake of TRUTH, not for the sake of Victory.

It is not a matter of winners and losers, but of moving forward to recognize TRUTH.

A free society depends on the dignity of Dissent, and the discussions that follow.

When we stifle discussion of contrary views to our own, we stifle ourselves and our

freedom in the name of power.


Definition: vic·tim·hood /ˈviktəmˌ(h)o͝od/


1. the state of being a victim:

the society nurtures a sense of victimhood

Definition: victimized /ˈviktəˌmīz,ed/


1. causing someone to be treated unfairly or made to feel as if he is in a bad position.

Adversity felt when treated poorly.

At some point in our lives we have each been victimized,

by poor treatment, physically, emotionally, or financially. We usually have a strong sense

of being a victim,

but we have a critical choice to make



Societal labeling of “Victimhood”

Does our society today label people as Victims and winners… Road kill or Champions

The example of Yisrael Kristal - Survivor of Auschwitz. He refused to embrace

victimhood for what was done to him and his family. He made a choice every day to

move forward, to bless people and to taste “the Sweetness in Life”, just as God does.

How do we do that?

“To survive tragedy and trauma.. First Build the Future,

Only then, Remember the past.”

Real Victims

There are real victims - They deserve our empathy, sympathy, compassion, care, and real

help… The difference is between being a victim and defining yourself as one.

This requires taking responsibility for your actions and reactions to adversity.


Breeds anger and resentment to others (everyone else?)

Victimhood seeks revenge for real and imagined betrayal, and rejection.

Often fostered by society to seek physical retribution…. Cain and Abel?


Asking: what should I do next? To make this better, to make myself (family) better, to bear witness

to the Lord?

Understanding you were victimized by forces beyond your immediate control, but choosing to

become a moral agent, to put myself on a path to become what I want to be. This way leads to

challenge, courage, strength of will, and self control.

What is OUR Part?

Do not stand idly be the blood of your neighbor”

“Learn to do what is right.”

“Seek justice.”

“Relieve the oppressed.”

“Defend Orphans.”

“Plead for the Widow.”


Individual Recognition vs Group Recognition - When groups seek to address

issues this veers into Identity Politics, which often leads to a group identity of

Victimhood, and the politics of competitive victimhood.

Who has it worse, and who deserves to be “compensated or restored” first.

We often use the term Economic Oppression, or Psychological Oppression when we talk

about Groups of people. This is really a crime of the culture to hold one group back from

political or social or economic equality.

The politics of groups who identify as Oppressed or injured by disrespect of the dominant

group build a permanent state of suspicion, that nothing the dominant group does can be

trusted. This usually becomes self-defeating and dead ends into the politics of anger.

How to change the dialog

Decent society work to redress disadvantage and deprivation of the marginalized groups.

To provide opportunity and human dignity. But there is a great difference in looking to

build an equal future, and remaining in the past and fighting all of the old battles again.

Power is about distribution of resources, not about self esteem or allocation of blame.

Suffering is Universal, but Victimhood is optional. - Edith Eger

All of us are likely to be victimized at some point in our lives, we will be exposed to abuse, injury,

failure, ill fortune. These come from outside forces.

Victimhood comes from the inside, no one can make you a “Victim” but you. With victimhood you

become your own punisher, and your own jailer.

If we have free will, we are not slaves to fate, no future is predetermined, there is always a choice.

The choice of Freedom brings the defeat of victimhood, and the redemptive birth of HOPE.

Challenge: How can we erase Victimhood from those around us?

Next Week – Part 3, Chapter 15 -The Return of Public Shaming



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