Creating victims


You were a hero, a real-life hero,
a sparkle in your eye, a swagger in your walk,
scarred inside and out; twenty years of war carried with quiet pride;
self-assured, confident and able, a real-life hero; great to be around that sparkle in your eye.
oh but then, offered rights and restitution, you traded in your sparkle and your swagger
suddenly a victim…
complete with the victim slouch and slur and gaze
all within your rights, Jose, all your choice
but I miss the hero and the sparkle in your eye.

Rights and restitution for those who have suffered wrongdoing is a noble endeavor. Unfortunately, gaining access to those rights often requires reliving trauma and assuming an idealized victim pose. Financial compensation becomes the all-encompassing goal and remedy, with a little “that will show them” punishment against the aggressors thrown into the mix. While that compensation may be gained (or may remain a promise), the question as to the long-term impact of this victim conversion process on the quality of life of each hero should not continue to be ignored.

-and to those friends who will speculate on the identity of “Jose”, this is a composite of this behavioral phenomenon I have observed over the years and does not apply to a particular individual.-


3 thoughts on “Creating victims

  1. William L (Bill) Hoos

    Hello, Ron
    I’Ve been looking at your “Creating Victims” picture for the past week or so and am somewhat baffled. So I googled “restitution to victims of El Salvador’s civil war”. The articles spanned pre, during, and post-war topics and graphically told of the atrocities that took place in your area. I remember talking to you about the war and seeing for myself the results of some of these atrocities in survivors we helped in the eye clinics. But this picture—either it depicts very graphically in someone’s creative imagination the horrors of war or it’s the atrocity itself or it’s a natural phenomenon in nature. Which is it? Either way, restitution to the survivors or their heirs will be a small price for the government to pay for the horrors the people of northern Morazon experienced. An admission of guilt and “we are sorry” from the government are a good beginning, but only that!

    By the way how is funding for the Brinker Science Lab progressing?

    I hope you get this comment.


    1. Ron Brenneman Post author

      Bill, Thanks for the comment. Actually the picture is a close-up of a pine tree, scarred some while back and with sap running. Just how meaningful this is to the story is up to you. With regard to restitution, it may be a small price for the government to pay, may be deserved and completely justified. My sadness stems from watching competent people convert themselves into victims; taking on the attitude, passivity and listlessness required for the role. Ok, so they get $30,000, but when they look into the mirror now, they see a victim, not the survivor, not the hero they saw before. Justice? Where?

      The Dr. William Brinker Science Lab is good to go, but we do need further funding. To date, we have received $4,000 for the project, a good part which came from you. We do need the remaining $11,000 budgeted to complete the installations and equipment.

  2. William L (Bill) Hoos

    That picture! It’s a creation in nature. I sure am glad to hear that, but, in light of how you framed it and how I interpreted it, it’s painfully suggestive, intrinistically evil and a stark reminder of the scourge of war. Without my twenty year history in El Salvador, the picture would be just a creation in nature. With that experience in many of the the towns and villages so savagely impacted during the war, I can fully understand “Jose”. He sees his government as ambiguous–on the one hand apologizing to him–on the other forgiving and protecting the perpetrators through amnesty. What Jose really wants in my mind is multi-faceted: restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, certainly; more importantly at this stage of his life with a family himself, reconciliation or acceptance that he and the government are compatible and can communicate equally ; lastly, a “historical memory” of what actually ocourred so it will not happen again. Can we say a guarantee of non-occurence? A pipe dream for Jose?

    What you are doing at Amun Shae in many ways is a positive step in influencing a generation of youth to make the guarantee of non-occurance, not repeating the past, a realty through education, self-respect and cooperation. You are helping them to restore or develop courage, defiance and their dignity.

    I am saddened by the lack of support you are getting from Eyecare. Perhaps another mass emailing to Eyecare members. My wife and I will be sending a check for $2000.00 to Lancaster in the near future.

    Best to you and the family,



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