Fourth of July, 1985, I broke my neck. Life is harder with near full-body paralysis, but so what? It’s still amazing! Living from that day forward has actually given me an immeasurable gift. I’ve gained a unique perspective and a happiness that I wouldn’t have otherwise found.
We all face some adversity in our lives, so this is not a handicap or “disability” website. And it’s not trying to say that there aren’t real victims or suffering in the world. It’s a website dedicated to sharing a positive perspective on this imperfect world that can help overcome any adversity (paralysis was my worst nightmare). Not A Victim is devoted to revealing the prevalence and dangers of promoting the victim mentality and providing constructive ways to overcome our tendency to see ourselves and others as “victims” of unfairness, inequality, or misfortune.
In my mind, paralysis does not define me, but that’s what everyone sees first. So it’s natural and perfectly fine that people describe me as “the paralyzed guy” or even “a cripple.” That doesn’t bother or harm me in any way (despite all the victim narratives these days, or the enabling of hypersensitivity).
There are millions (or billions) of people who would love to have what I have: the freedom, shelter, running water, food, clothes, military and police protection we often take for granted in America, just to name a few. Plus, I have been blessed in many additional ways: my loved ones, family, friends, and faith have given me uncommon strength, and my career, my disposition, and even my relatively good health make me especially fortunate. Plus I had the blessing of being born with a pretty good head on my shoulders and a strong will. So this is my way of acknowledging my good fortune and paying it forward.
After breaking my neck, it took me some time to come to grips with my new body and years to finally grow up. But I eventually went to law school, was elected Class President, and graduated from the three year Juris Doctorate program in just over two years. I have been a practicing lawyer ever since. My first job after law school was with a small law firm. Unfortunately, the guy who hired me turned out to be a crook and I quit when I found out (he never paid me thousands of dollars he owed me and was disbarred not long after). I thought about suing him, but decided instead of playing the victim I’d start my own solo practitioner law firm (besides – you can wrestle with a skunk and win, but you’ll still stink!). It was scary starting out on my own, but it was a good decision. I have been able to help hundreds of people and businesses in more than 20 years of practice. I’ve won jury trials, bench trials, and appeals for my clients, and have provided lots of legal advice along the way. I’m also an investment banker, helping to sell clients’ small to medium sized businesses by creating a competitive market, and I’m a consultant helping owners stay out of litigation.
I’ve also been fortunate to have served as a Presidential appointee to a United States Agency in Washington, DC, as a police commissioner in my hometown, and as a member of the Kansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Believe it or not, I am happier now than before I broke my neck. I know that sounds hard to imagine but it's true. It has a lot to do with being a blessing to others and finding a woman to love.
My journey has taught me many things, the most important may be that I should never consider myself a “victim,” and that happiness and fulfillment in life do not come in ease of living, “fairness,” or those things that cultural narratives, politicians, or advertisers tell us we need. We certainly are not “victims” if we don’t have them. Kids with abusive parents, wrongfully convicted people in prison, and mutilated, raped, or trafficked women are some examples of real victims. But even they can benefit from avoiding the victim mentality.
Lots of narratives are based on one or more of the four elements of “victimism” I’ve found (comparing, fairness obsession, blaming, and finding comfort in woundedness), so the victim mentality is deeply ingrained in many ways. As a result, the goal of highlighting the existence and the causes of victim mentality, both in our own perspective and the perspectives of those whose victimism we tend to enable, is an enormous undertaking; not only because it is so prevalent but because we humans resist mightily any change to our worldviews. But because the victim mentality is responsible for so much hopelessness, depression, and disenchantment — often leading to poor choices, violence, and the literal ruination of lives — it is a worthy endeavor. I am committed to helping spread the word and providing positive examples. Will you help?