Last time, I talked about that maddeningly endless litany of seemingly unanswerable questions that can feel like pinballs bouncing around in your head; questions about self-protection vs. being part of the human society and therefore, at least in some respects, being your brother's keeper, and about turning the other cheek vs. being a victim, and wondering how in the world to sort it all out.
The primary question I posed was, "If I refuse to engage the perpetrator, if he gives a war and I don't come, what then?" And part of the pinball response was: Then he is free to run roughshod over my being and through my guts; then he is free to tear my life and my family to shreds. And then, after having succeeded, having met with little or no resistance, after he holds his glistening prize up to the light and congratulates himself on a job well done, isn't he then free to turn his attention to the exhilarating task of identifying, stalking and eventually annihilating his next victim? That's the cost. If I turn the other cheek and let it go, and congratulate myself on having survived and on getting on with my life, what happens to my neighbor? If I stoutly refuse to engage, is not my perpetrator in a position of complete control? Yes? No? As I said previously -- more questions than answers.
The problem (or, more accurately, one of the problems!) is that we do not exist in vacuums. We are not solitary bumble bees, living out our lives as though there is nothing of consequence beyond our own needs and the boundaries of our own skin. There was an expression made popular in the late 1960s: You're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem. If we never put ourselves at risk, if we never stand opposed, then all the reprehensible lunatics like the one who embezzled my parents' life savings and was later responsible for my father's death, will be fruitful and will multiply and will gleefully and callously devastate one family after the next as they struggle in vain to fill that huge, gaping void within themselves with the possessions and the pain of their victims.
And so we come full circle: what of the perpetrator himself? Does he not deserve every bit of hate and venom my wounded heart can dredge up? I thought so. I was certain of it. But then a very dear friend said something to me, one single, simple sentence I must have heard a million times throughout my life, and probably a million more since 2011, when I joined the ranks of those who wear the label of "victim" on their backs, just slightly below the hastily-scribbled sign which reads "kick me!" She said she felt sorry for the man. And it was clear, in the way she said it and in they way she looked at me as the words passed her lips, that she was suggesting I do the same.
Feel sorry for him???
Join me next time when I explore the very explosive suggestion of sympathy for the devil: feeling sorry for -- and contemplating forgiveness for -- the man who devastated my family, the man whose actions ended my father's life.
Copyright by Pamela S. K. Glasner © 2013, All Rights Reserved