During this Lent season, we will be unpacking in a three-part series the idea of lament, in our context, where many people have embraced the victim mentality in their identity.
The first aspect of victimization is that it is a fatalistic view. A fatalistic view is basically one where life, events, history; everything that happens to us is determined by someone else, by a power over us. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this is often expressed through people’s identity, that being Jewish or Palestinian determines our destiny which is written for us from above. For example, for Jews, there is a common belief that there is an existential threat and in every generation, an evil leader will rise to try to destroy us, or for Palestinians, that because we live in this geographical location, our destiny is to suffer time and time again at the hands of the Occupation and its mistreatment.
Unlike victimhood, to lament is not about a person becoming submissive to an unjust reality, but where a person knows the loss and injustice they face, while also knowing that what’s happened to them or their people is not predetermined. It’s about lamenting the evil that has been inflicted, acknowledging that the situation is not how it’s supposed to be and taking responsibility for our actions to address it. Lamentation is the opposite of fatalism. It takes people from accepting and submitting to fear and oppression, to self-reflecting, refusing to accept injustice, repenting of the victimization mentality, and taking responsibility for our actions in loving response.
Musalaha Executive Director — Salim J. Munayer