Scapegoating and Forgiveness: Part II

Scapegoating is s a way of placing all of the blame for a given set of circumstances on one person (or relatively few people) even though blame is always, always, always more complicated than that. The act of banishing gives the remainder of the group a false sense of security because we believe, for a time, the source of our conflict has been discovered and resolved. But it does not stay resolved, because we did not locate the true source of conflict.

According to Girard's theory of Mimetic Desire, the true source of conflict is ourselves. In other words, each person is capable of violence, harm, or wrongdoing. Each person on this planet is capable of destroying lives. Not everyone does, but we certainly have the capacity to. Recognizing this truth about ourselves removes the Scapegoat Mechanism as a possibility. Why? Because we recognize that we can’t blame one person for a problem that exists within each member of the entire group. When we recognize the truth about ourselves we find empathy for the scapegoat, knowing that scapegoating is just one more false strategy we pursue in life.

Now, this is not a way of saying that every victim and every offender are moral equivalents. That is most certainly not the case. It is more about how we see ourselves and how we posture ourselves in relation to the rest of the world. If we see ourselves as entirely innocent, as entirely pure, as only a victim of circumstances, then we will struggle with rage, we will struggle with resentment, we will lack empathy, we will be rigid, we will be isolated, and likely more.

If we see ourselves for who we are, there is the possibility that our hearts will crack open, even if it's ever so slightly, and we will discover a state of acceptance. We will find that, while life is not fair, the world is not out to get us. There is a big difference between those two things.

More on these last two paragraphs tomorrow.