From Pine View Farm

Everyone’s a Victim 2

Patricia Dalton, a clinical psychologist who practices in Washington, has some trenchant comments in today’s Washington Post:

The tendency to shirk the burden of responsibility permeates our family rooms and our boardrooms. I saw it in Vice President Cheney’s belated response to the shooting incident last month. And it has characterized former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay’s public statements since his company’s debacle: “Of anything and everything that I could imagine might happen to me in my lifetime,” Lay said in Houston in December, “the one thing I would have never even remotely speculated about was that someday I would become entangled in our country’s criminal justice system.”

Whether or not he is found guilty, Lay sounds like the spokesman for our culture of victimhood. It is a culture that reflects a studiously nonjudgmental attitude toward one’s own behavior, while ignoring its effects on others. And it is based on a belief system like this: I am more important than most people; I am good; therefore, I am incapable of doing bad things.

This seems to relate to the topic of last week’s Speaking of Faith:

In an age of Enron and WorldCom, how can we imagine a place for business ethics, much less religious virtue, in the global economy? We speak with a Hindu international business analyst who offers learned, fascinating observations about how the world’s myriad religions have shaped global business norms and practices.

Which, as far as I am concerned, ties back to the fallacy that self-esteem is everything.

Somewhere, things have gotten turned on their heads. Self-esteem does not lead to good behavior. Good behavior leads to self-esteem.



  1. Opie

    March 5, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    Hear ye, hear ye! Although I don’t quite see what the fuss is about the Lay quote. But Dalton’s message is still valid.

  2. Frank

    March 5, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    I think she used the Lay quote as a high-profile example, nothing more.

    The more telling examples come from her experiences with kids.