scapegoatScapegoats were the animals the ancient Hebrews laid their hands on in order to cast away their sins. It was a symbolic act, meaning, “I’m ashamed of the evil in myself and I publicly disown it.” The key to healing was humility: “The goat is innocent, I am not.”

Modern scapegoatists, however, live in denial of their sins, insisting that the goat is to blame. They punish others for what they cannot bear to acknowledge in themselves. The Nazis blamed the Jews. Omar Mateen, who murdered 49 people in an Orlando nightclub, blamed gays for his failure to overcome his own homosexual desires and live according to his Muslim beliefs.

James Fields, the 20 year old who plowed his car into the opposition crowd at a Virginia white supremacist rally, is a modern scapegoatist. Since his early teens, he has attacked his invalid mother for suggesting he break his escapist behavior patterns. He has been a devout follower of Hitler, insisting that white Americans’ failings (and his own) are the fault of others, in this case African Americans. But he’s only one example. The “white nationalist” movement is Fields’s denial writ large.

Just as it did before World War II, scapegoatist nationalism is moving from backrooms to public squares: In the Middle East, in Asia, in Europe and America.

What can we do to stop it?

We can stop blaming our own “goats.” We can be transparent about our sins, economic, moral and otherwise. We can admit to bullies and other agitated souls that we are no more naturally virtuous than they. We can live lives of repentance and renewal, giving others implicit permission to do the same. We can show that it’s not only OK to fail publicly, but that it’s the first step to moving forward…


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Scapegoat

  1. nancyehead says:

    Great post, Mitch! God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Edward Sosa says:

    I was truly blessed by this Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A great and informative post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. says:

    Thanks for sharing your thiughts

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Red Letters says:

    Amen to transparency Mitch!
    Thanks for sharing & blessing me today!
    Hayley 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The only way! Excellent Post!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. An important and timely post, Mitch. Well written.

    btw; according to this Wikipedia page, it isn’t 100% certain that he was gay:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You hit the nail on the head.. I read other good posts but you really are identifying the major issue . . blaming every one for everything we don’t like.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. brunniegetchell says:

    Excellent post! Unfortunately, not much has changed since that ancient Hebrew ritual. Many of us still believe that blaming others for our own “fractured selves” somehow pardons us from guilt and much needed change.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. smzang says:

    “What can we do to stop it?”

    “We can live lives of repentance and renewal, giving others implicit permission to do the same. We can show that it’s not only OK to fail publicly, but that it’s the first step to moving forward…”

    I used to think that instead of bumper stickers, we should have ‘forehead stickers’. Your question and answer would make a great one. Maybe by wearing it we’d absorb it by osmosis and everyone who saw us would likewise be reminded that the right answers are really not all that complicated. You do good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ekurie says:

    I hope your post proves to be prophetic in its resolution.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. curryNcode says:

    good point…. I find myself doing the same… but definitely not at these extremes…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love you enemies – pray for your enemies – maybe your enemy is really your own unconfessed sin and failings not the other people you blame – Great post

    Liked by 1 person

  14. William Hill says:

    I agree. For a further example, on my blog I posted “White on White Anger”, on the Charlottesville riot that perhaps gives another perspective on hatred and the use of scapegoats.

    Liked by 1 person

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