Gil Mertz | America Today: My Life Is All Your Fault

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary

Kelly Clarkson is a remarkable singer and I’m a big fan, but her song some years back “Because of You” would qualify as the national anthem for codependency. I love the haunting melody, but the lyrics of this song suggest a total victim who is so paralyzed with fear and pain that they can’t move on with their life.  And here’s why: 

Because of YOU — I never stray too far from the sidewalk.

Because of YOU — I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt.

Because of YOU — I try my hardest just to forget everything.

Because of YOU — I don’t know how to let anyone else in.

Because of YOU — I’m ashamed of my life because it’s empty.

Because of YOU — I am afraid.

Because of YOU!

Bottom line – my life is your fault! If you’re dating someone and they tell you this is their favorite song – you should break up now. You’ll thank me later. 

I would never dismiss anyone else’s heartbreak because so many have been genuinely traumatized and were victims at one point in their lives. But there are many who choose to stay victims and remain stuck from overcoming their pain of the past to fulfill their purpose for the future.

Why would someone choose to stay a victim? 

It’s not that hard to understand. If I stay a victim, I will have a lifelong excuse for not reaching my potential. If I stay a victim, not as much is expected of me. If I stay a victim, I will get people’s sympathy and not be held accountable or responsible.

While this can relate to all of us at some level, I personally believe this is applicable for many on the issue of racism. 

If you ask what can be done to satisfy their desire for justice, they will be hard pressed to give you an answer. And so, we remain stuck indefinitely as victims and can’t move forward.

We’ve seen all kinds of money given to groups like Black Lives Matter and other causes for racial equality. We’ve seen entire professional sports leagues adopt and promote their cause and brand. And we’re seeing those who murdered George Floyd awaiting trial. 

And yet, have the protests stopped or gotten worse? Has all the kneeling during our national anthem made any tangible difference?

Oprah Winfrey was a victim in her young life, but she has been a shining example of someone who overcame her painful past to achieve unbelievable success. Which is why I find it so strange that she would use her vast resources to support the 1619 Project, which promotes the idea that America was founded on racism and slavery. 

How will showing what life was like in 1619 help any Black person in 2020? Will going back 400 years help resolve racism today or only fan the flames of anger and hatred? Will it help the Black community overcome or serve to justify holding onto racism for another generation of victims?

A classic example of promoting the victim mentality is when gazillionaire LeBron James recently said, “In America and in society, there ain’t been no damn movement for us.” 

What’s astounding is that he made that comment just days after the death of civil rights icon John Lewis. Could LeBron James truly be that ignorant of his own Black history? And I don’t know if you can call the Civil War a movement, but hundreds of thousands of people, mostly white men, died to end slavery. 

When we blame others for our problems, we are insisting that they alone must change before our situation can improve. When we fail to act because we’re expecting someone else to do something, we surrender control. Author Robert Anthony says, “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”

As we develop a lifestyle of blaming others, it begins to degrade into a spirit of resentment. The word resentment is derived from the French root resentir, which means “to feel again.” And this is what happens when we keep the sin of racism alive. We feel that pain again…and again…and again. 

And in all the years we waste in resentment, has it ever made us feel better? Do we ever learn anything new or grow as a person or a nation? 

We can address racism with raised fists, or we can open our hands, our hearts and our minds to letting go of the past so we can all experience a better future. 

Anyone got a better idea?

Gil Mertz is a Thousand Oaks resident and former Santa Clarita Valley resident who worked for Help the Children in Valencia for 20 years. His column does not necessarily represent the views of The Signal or its editorial board.

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