Thursday, 28 February 2008

Free Will, mitigation and victimhood

Most Christians accept that God has given us free will to go with our conscience. We are to form our conscience and then make acts of our will in conformity with God's Will. Of course we have a tendency towards sin, even after the Sacrament of Baptism; that scar of original sin called concupiscence.

So we sin.

The mess that people make of their lives often have truly mitigating circumstances. But I truly do not believe that mitigation is an excuse.

There has been a recent case in the news of a man who killed a number of prostitutes. He is now threatening suicide from prison. His girlfriend seems to think she is partially to blame somehow and his family are all rushing to the cruddy MSM with stories of how this poor benighted man was abused as a child and that's why he became a murderer, in a kind of, he couldn't help it, it was inevitable kind of way.

How can someone repent when everyone says, it wasn't your fault- you're a victim?

How can people who are abused rise above what has happened to them when encouraged only to see themselves as a victim?

My older children were hurt by a young man some years ago. He was set on doing serious damage to one of them in a way that still makes me feel sick. Fortunately I found out before it was too late.

I forgive him. He isn't sorry of course, but I see he is the way he is because his father is detached and doesn't 'father' his children and the mother has enabled and colluded with her son's behaviour rather than trying to stop it. It's her behaviour I find hard to forgive because she chose to let her children behave like that and by not dealing with it; by actually enabling the bad behaviour, she allowed her children, and particularly her son to put other children at serious risk.

We are all wounded, broken people in some way. But we are all called to properly fulfil whatever task God calls us too.
I swore an oath when I was young that I would never do to any children I had, what was being done to me. I kept my promise. I am not a perfect parent and I doubt we would make it into the Dr Ray book of excellent parents; but I really don't think a bad childhood is going to stand as an excuse on the Last Day, I really don't.


Rita said...

Great article.

I feel much the same way about "peer pressure", because children are encouraged to rattle it off as an excuse for their behaviour. I have got into a bit of trouble for suggesting that perhaps it is a dangerous thing to start believing in peer pressure, because once you start believing in it, it then becomes very difficult to desire anything better for yourself.

Am I wrong?

KitBrookside said...

Hear, hear. It took becoming a parent for me to see just how wrong so much of my having been "parented" was - bipolar egomaniacal alcoholic dentist dad who was amazingly gifted, yet nearly ruined the family - then walked out, leaving my angry, detached mom left to deal with angry, acting out kids (financially, physically, emotionally). I am amazed to have emerged from so much of it unscathed, although my relationships with my parents and sibs are constantly at some level of strain. (Severe, at the moment, actually.)

No one gets the parenting rulebook handed to them, although there are plenty of them out there now, so it is a matter of blaming and hanging on to old resentments...or growing up and getting over it. You just have to decide - am I going to cave in and whine about the past or look back at it and always, always work to overcome and succeed?

I am definitely not a model parent, but it would appear that I have reasonably kind, well-adjusted kids who, I think, will do well at whatever they set out to do. I just want to be a supportive, reliable figure, not one who is a perpetual source of negativity and stress like I've had to deal with all my life.

We'll know when the time comes, I guess.

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Rita-no I think you are right. Peer pressure is assumed and it is always assumed that somehow it over-rides free will.
It's another way of saying it is someone else's fault.

Kit- indeed. I have had more than one person when hearing something of my history (and I don't tend to talk about it much) exclaim in surprise at how sane they find me.
I refuse, absolutely refuse to be the victim of my parents.

antonia said...

Yes, very thought-provoking post.
I am sorry for what almost happened to your children; it sounds terrifying.


swissmiss said...

Sorry to hear about the threats to your children. Very disturbing, but good to know to always keep a wary eye open.

I agree with you. Parenting is hard and we don't really get any do overs! I had a good childhood. My brother, however, has always had a persecuted attitude that lingers to this day. I don't understand the desire to hold on to these (unwarranted) feelings. What purpose does it serve and what good can come of it? It's so odd that our country used to pride itself on independence and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and achieving a piece of the American Dream. Now, for some reason, society wants to make us a culture of victims, needing the state to care for us and to tell us what is in our best interest. Like you said in your more recent post, I hope to get my children to heaven, and also make them able to stand on their own two feet for the journey.