Victims and Useless Lives

Photo taken by Andrei.

In one of Valeriu Gafencu’s letters written from prison, he ends with these words, “Beloved brother, never consider yourself useless. Wherever you are, it’s by God’s will; and you have a call to answer.” Fr. Iustin Parvu, who was also imprisoned by the communist regime in Romania, said, “None of the hours of suffering in prison was useless.”

If you are not to consider yourself useless, then you are not to think that you can be a victim either. However, especially when we discuss persecution, we tend to say that those destroyed by violence and terror are victims. And we often deplore them. We often deplore ourselves as well because we are thrown into a life that we consider we do not deserve or because we experience events that we believe diminish our possibility to accomplish the high value of our lives.

Is one a victim when one does not find a place to give birth to one’s child? Is one a victim when one gives birth in a manger?

I have a call to answer. It may sound heroic, as if the salvation of the world were to rest upon my shoulders. But Gafencu was not speaking from such perspective. There is nothing heroic about this call, at least not if we consider the usual use of “heroic.” I have a call to answer may mean to wash dishes when they are dirty; it may mean to listen to my son when he talks to me; it may mean to always be present in the moment that is given to me, regardless of that moment, and not dream of a parallel life, away or in the future.

Of course Yoda comes to mind here :). “All of his life has he looked away, to the future, to the horizon… Never his mind on where he was”:

The call requires my presence. It wants me to live.

I am a victim when I do not answer this call in every moment of my life–if I consider myself useless. A victim of my own doing.



About Tavi's Corner

Blogging on ancient philosophy, communist persecution in Romania (including deportation to Siberia), and Orthodox Christianity. I've translated books from Romanian to English, and I also write about them from time to time.
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