Someone the Blame

The term “scapegoat” comes from Old Testament Jewish law. Once each year the priest would symbolically place the sin of all the people on a goat which was then sent away into the wilderness.

It seems that the creating of the scapegoat is something built into all of us; every community and every time. We choose one person or group, and assign to them the blame for our problems. Then, as long as we can pour our anger, contempt, and violence out on our chosen scapegoat, we can live in relative peace with each other.

When I was young the greatest evil in the world was the Soviet Union. Any amount of violence, slander, and hatred shoveled upon the Russian people was completely justified, because they were evil. When the Soviet Union fell our angst almost immediately shifted toward the middle east. Iraq was evil. Afghanistan was evil. All Muslims were evil. We rallied around our need for blood. We blamed all our societies evils on Muslims. We even justified marginalization of and bigotry toward American Muslims.

In recent years our scapegoat has taken many forms–George W. Bush, Democrats,  Barack Obama, homosexuals, the media, the %1. . . Over and over again we have justified hatred and violence by identifying people who are “worthy” of this treatment.

Even though the violence of scapegoating brings a form of unity, it is never satisfying. Blood-lust is never satiated. It is never finished. Once the object of our hatred is killed, defeated, or disgraced, we quickly move to a new target (and eventually we kill God).

Why do we not learn the futility of the scapegoat?

For a brilliant, fictional examination of scapegoating read the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Loud echos of this story are also seen in The Hunger Games.

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2 Responses to “Someone the Blame”

  1. The Soviet Union also scapegoated – the capitalists, the Tzar, anything that was ‘Old Russia’ was the cause of their suffering. It’s sad really…

  2. The Lottery is AWESOME. Good blog, as usual. : )

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