Marvel, Disney, Batman, Superman, Star Wars… it’s staggering how much Hollywood is feeding the world with myth. And I like it, don’t get me wrong. I particularly love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they’ve made great decisions with characters that have been dear to me since I was a kid. But did you know there’s a connection between today’s superhero movies and having a victim mentality?
I realized this when I began noticing a trend, based on this: the bad guys keep getting the good guys to do their dirty work. In the first Avengers movie, the villain Loki used an extraterrestrial staff to commandeer the Avenger Hawkeye. This caused him to do anything Loki wanted, including killing other agents.
In the second Avengers movie, there’s a girl who has some special power to mess with other people’s minds. She uses it on the Avengers, causing them a lot of hurt and confusion. Especially when she gets Bruce Banner to turn into the Hulk and destroy much of the nearby city.
Recently I’ve been watching the sci-fi series Falling Skies. In this series, alien overlords enslave humans by taking over their bodies and minds. Over and over again, the aliens get their work done through manipulating the show’s various human characters.
At one point, something finally clicked for me. This is a recurring theme of mind control. Of villains commandeering heroes to do their bidding. And then when the heroes are released from the grasps of their captors, they’re accepted again with open arms by their comrades. “It’s OK, you didn’t mean it.” “That wasn’t you killing all those government agents, it was [villian’s name] using his powers on you…”
This message keeps repeating itself over and over again until a deeper underlying message becomes clear:
“You are not responsible for your actions.”
And this is a lie.
Victims hurting victims
James Holmes fired upon a crowd of Colorado moviegoers with automatic weapons on July 20th, 2012. It was reported that he identified himself as “The Joker” before he opened fire. According to him, when he killed all those people, he wasn’t James anymore, he was the Joker. He took on another identity that enabled him to do what he wanted to do. And during his trial, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His plea was accepted.
What’s the reasoning behind the lie that we’re not responsible for our own actions? It’s that we’re all victims. All of us.
Victims of this corrupt world. Victims born unto victims, who were born unto victims themselves. Violence, sexual abuse, trauma – you name it. We’ve all been through some version of this.
But it would be bad news if it just stopped there. Who pays the price, the cost, of what was done to us – to all of us? Without some universal “slate-cleaner,” we would all be victims hurting victims. None taking responsibility for their own actions. Each having the social legitimacy to punish and enslave the other, because that’s what was done to us. And yes, this is what much of the world looks like today.
How to go from a victim mentality to a leader mentality
This world requires faith in a “slate-cleaner.” In order to stop having a victim mentality, you must put your faith in the idea that all the hurt that was done to you, and done to those who did it to you, and done to those who did it to them, can be accounted for, can be paid for, can be erased. Once we accept that idea, we are no longer victims – the “slate-cleaner” becomes the victim for us.
We don’t get to call ourselves victims anymore. We don’t get to act like victims anymore. We don’t get to use any more excuses for not taking responsibility for our actions, even if our own society lets us off the hook.
Think about it: even if our society lets us off the hook, there are still people who lead our society. And we definitely want them to take responsibility for their own actions. Right?
We don’t need a world of victims anymore. We need a world of leaders. The lie that says we’re not responsible for our own actions causes us to think that the position of leadership is not for us. It’s for someone else. So we pass the ball on to someone else, and in turn, it gets passed around until nothing gets resolved.
We need more leaders than you think
Our culture tends to frame the idea of leadership in the political sense. It’s easy to point the finger at presidents, prime ministers, senators, cabinet members, mayors, etc. But if we were to think of the world not as countries, states, and cities – but as communities – we would realize how much leaders are needed.
Today we need a world of strong communities – lots of them. And because of Dunbar’s Rule, I would argue that these be communities of no larger than 150 people. We’re talking about roughly 50 million of these communities. And they need leaders. Are you one of those 50 million leaders? There’s room for you!
We can no longer afford to have a victim mentality. We must take responsibility for our own actions. And to do so, we must put our faith in one “slate-cleaner” (remember, there’s only One who’s worthy). And after that, we have only one option: to lead.
Is there some area in your life where you can switch from a victim mentality to a leadership mindset? Let me know in the comments below!