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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Magic Duel”

In today’s episode, the “Great and Powerful Trixie” returns for revenge against Twilight Sparkle. The thing that kind of got me about that whole setup is why Trixie wanted revenge in the first place. She had ended up in a rather bad spot; unable to keep doing her magic show and ending up having to work on the Pie’s Rock Farm. Yet when you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense for her to blame Twilight for all of that. She was the one who made up the story about her defeating an Ursa Major. It was Snips and Snails who ended up bringing an Ursa Minor to her to battle, at which point she got caught in her own lie. Twilight never tried to make herself out to be better than her or boasted or bragged for a moment. All she did was come to Trixie’s rescue after she had gotten caught up in her own tall tale.

Yet not only did Trixie hate Twilight for that, in her mind, she warped everything to make herself the “victim” in that situation. That somehow it was all Twilight’s fault. That Twilight rescuing her was somehow an overt act to show her off as a fraud and a liar. That this act, rather than having her own lie pointed out, was what ruined her reputation and forced her to perform manual labor for a living. That somehow Twilight was off to show herself as being better than her and greater at magic. That she had been the unfortunate target of all of this and now she had “earned” revenge against her.

The fact is the only thing Twilight did was spare Trixie some of the consequences of her own behavior. Everything else was the result of her own actions. And yet Trixie saw herself as the justified victim.

Kind of like real life, isn’t it?

It occurred to me recently that Western culture is obsessed with “being the victim”. Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of victims both in history and the modern day. African-Americans historically, both through the period of slavery and the 100 years of “Jim Crow” that followed comes to mind. Another is disenfranchised women. Lots of European examples that made followers of different religions second-class citizens is yet another. It’s not those I’m referring to. I’m referring to the tendency people like to use nowadays to label every disagreement or slight affront as something against them personally, as a race, sex, or other group so that the issue is not a disagreement or argument at all but, rather, a personal attack derived from spite, cruelty, and malice.

If you want examples, look no further than frivolous lawsuits. One individual sued Universal Studios for making their haunted house too frightening and causing them psychological damage. Another individual who was a rapist sued the hospital where he committed the rape for not having better security to prevent him from committing the crime. Yet another individual serving a three-year sentence for a crime he committed sued the people who had prosecuted him for giving him PTSD as a result of his sentence. And in one of the more ridiculous claims I’ve heard, one man tried to sue Bud Light for causing him severe emotional distress. Why? Because drinking the beer didn’t make women on an advertisement come to life like it did in a commercial.

These, of course, are more insane examples, but they take place everywhere. In the political sphere, pretty much any attack your party makes against another is justified, but any attack their party makes on your own is hateful, mean-spirited, a lie, and an attempt to strip power from them for themselves. In current protests that have arisen in the country, you’re either of the opinion that the police are out to beat you to death to keep you underneath them, or that the protesters want nothing but total anarchy. And when cornered at work or home over something we did, often the first impulse is to find someone to blame for it while you were simply the “innocent victim”, or perhaps the individual you wronged did some unwarranted attack on you to deserve your retribution.

Why do we all like “being the victim” so much? A victim is a bad thing to be, isn’t it? Not necessarily. People may be indifferent to us in a normal argument or disagreement, but if they see us as the “helpless victim vs. the big bully”, they’re more likely not only to support us but to ignore anything we did to get into our situation or flaws in our own arguments.

As we saw in the case of Trixie, being the victim also frees us up for a great deal of retribution on our own part. It didn’t matter that she was tormenting and torturing the citizens of Ponyville, because all of that was justified so long as she enacted justice by getting even with Twilight. It was simply an act of establishing equality.

But most of all, I think, being a victim turns a situation into a moral argument in which we are on the side of “good”, and therefore fully absolved and in the right. People can feel pretty good about themselves and their lifestyle choices if they see the entire world as one moral argument after another and see themselves as always on the morally high side. We never have any need to change or seek to improve ourselves or do better, because we’re either always good or the person who was wronged. It’s everyone else who needs to change. It’s the world that needs to get its act together. As for us, we’re doing fine.

There are genuine victims in the world, and that’s why I think this sort of viewpoint is simultaneously an incredible expression of egocentrism as well as selfishness. It’s certainly possible to be wronged without reason, but the fact is there are very few situations in life in which we have never contributed anything to a problem or sides we can take in which there isn’t some argument that can be made against it. Not everything in the world is done purely for goodness or meanness. In fact, few things are. To try and boil everything down into that is not only childish, it’s severely immature because it shows, rather than trying to understand another person or see what we have contributed to something, we’d rather say: “You’re a meanie and picking on me! Pbft!”

Romans 3:10 reads: “As it is written, ‘None is righteous, no, not one;'”. There isn’t anyone so perfect out there that they have never done anything to merit being the party “in the wrong” before. Naturally, that doesn’t mean we will be free of being the victims at some point in our life (some unfortunately more than others), but we have to be on our guard for times in which we’re using this as an excuse for ourselves. We can’t control the times in our lives in which people will use or abuse us, but we can always control how we respond to it, and we can always change our own behavior. In fact, that’s really the only thing we do have absolute control over.

In Matthew 7:5, when Jesus was talking about removing the “log” in our own eyes before trying to remove the “specks” out of the eyes of others, it’s worthwhile to point out the only thing we can remove in that situation is indeed the logs in our own eyes. I am ultimately the only one who can change me and improve me. And I’ll never do that if I continuously think about how bad other people are and how much they’re out to get me. A mature person doesn’t make excuses for their own actions. They face up to them and the consequences, acknowledge any wrongdoing, and then make a determined effort to change.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for sustaining me and preserving me in all the times I have been a genuine victim of cruelty and evil. For all the times I clung to ‘being a victim’ out of an attempt to garner support or excuse my own actions, please forgive me. Help me to grow in maturity and responsibility so that I will always look to changing myself for the better before I start looking for evil in other people that needs to change to accommodate me. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”