Welcoming 2018: The Doorway 101: ‘Are we asking the right questions?’
“There is no surer expression of superiority than to treat people primarily as victims. There is no more crippling attitude than to think of yourself primarily as a victim. Victimism is a disease that blights our best intended social programs, … because it attacks the ability and the inclination of people to look after themselves …e.g. if we aren’t very careful, we teach drug addicts that they are essentially victims of society. And since society isn’t going to change, at least not very fast, we also teach (people who are addicted) that they are essentially hopeless.
That’s victimism … to attack victimism is not to deny that people get dumped on, horribly, illogically, repeatedly. Nor is it to suggest that victims of discrimination and disadvantage should be left to their own devices, with no proffer of assistance from the rest of society. The distinction is between being concerned about people and feeling pity for them …
Victimism is impotent. Its focus is on the hole you are in – how you got there – how long you have been there, who is responsible for you being there, whether there are more of you than them in the hole …
The effective focus, which victimism obscures is, ‘How do I get out?’ “
William Raspberry, syndicated columnist, Washington Post (1994)
Traditional research is still asking the victimism questions. They shape ‘answers’ that become our beliefs.
Young people exiting the street are asking: “How do I get out?” In our 1994 archives we found a participant article which used this quote to illustrate her explanation of HOW The Doorway offers ‘help’:
“… The Back Door (now The Doorway) works because it does not encourage victimism, and it does not condemn or judge. … the contracting process puts the power of changing our lives where it belongs: in our own hands. Not only do they offer practical step-by-step guidance … but by working ALONGSIDE us, powered by OUR motivation and not their own, they allow us to learn that we are not victims, but people who have a degree of control over our lives.
Through (The Doorway) we consciously make choices rather than passively allow our lives to be controlled by external circumstances. The paternalism of our society breeds dependence and removes control from the person seeking help….”
In a society that still predominantly operates with entrenched systems and processes very much like William Raspberry describes, we facilitate self-determination for young people to identify, plan, assess and achieve their own goals. Their success is their own!
To be continued…