The Welcome to my World Challenge theme is “what is one thought I would like to share in regard to Easter?” I have chosen the theme of Scapegoating and building resilience.
“But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.” Lev 16:10
THE ORIGINS OF THE SCAPEGOAT
I have chosen this verse from Leviticus regarding the ‘Scapegoat.’ The Jewish Day of Atonement was when the priests performed a ceremonial ritual of laying all the sins of the Nation of Israel onto a goat. The animal was chosen by ‘lot’ and then sent away into the wilderness where it was at the mercy of wild animals or starvation. The people would then be happy for the next year as their sins were removed from them. This ceremony needed to be repeated annually.
The theme ‘scapegoating’ fitted nicely into my thoughts on trauma for these few weeks, with a resolution in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. He was the ultimate scapegoat for the sins of the world. His resurrection enables us to build resilience for living in an unjust world.
UNDESERVED ILL TREATMENT
When someone is singled out for adverse treatment or blame, they did not deserve, but because of the ‘lot’ drawn against them, those in power used their authority to abuse and demeaned that individual or group of people. This can happen in a family, where one child is singled out as the ‘culprit’ for anything that goes wrong. It could be that child has AHHD, high spirited, is autistic, or for any other reason, but they are likely to be blamed for the family’s ills. They will carry the negative consequences of being ‘picked on’ into the world with them.
It can happen in all kinds of businesses and organizations when things go wrong, and the CEO or management needs someone to blame for their failures. Someone in the lower ranks is chosen as the scapegoat and will leave the organization, taking a load of injustice and anger with them into the world.
This can happen in religious and church settings, when the leadership, pastor, or priest has messed up big time, often with sexual abuse. There is a big cover-up to protect the institution, and it is the victim who is sent away as the scapegoat into the world, carrying the institution’s shame with them.
The same thing is playing out in communities, where a specific community is singled out as the ‘scapegoat.’ We see the Asian-American community targeted now. Previous years, it was African Americans or Muslims.’ Who will be the ‘scapegoat’ for the nation’s sins next year? As each generation of scapegoats takes their burden of injustice out into the world, the world becomes a more hostile place as the injustices heap up one upon the other. How will this all be resolved? Our world becomes deeply divided between those who have the power to inflict injustice and the recipients, who in turn will begin to respond with their own manner of injustice.
As each generation of scapegoats takes their burden of injustice out into the world, the world becomes a more hostile place as the injustices heap up one upon the other.
What options does the ‘scapegoat’ have? If we look at the original scapegoat, he may have been torn apart by wild animals, or he may have been resilient and learned how to survive in the hostile wilderness. Those excluded from the ‘power’ group may decide to fight back; this causes conflict or terrorism as they may be few against many. Others may look for greener pastures and safety elsewhere. Taking themselves out of the danger zone, only to find themselves ‘scapegoated’ again as ‘immigrants.’ They could just kowtow to the ‘party line, give up their fight for justice and accept the status -quo, and become passive. Or they could build resilience, each time becoming stronger until they know they are being scapegoated and can call the perpetrators out.
This is where the Easter story comes into a full circle. The prophet Isaiah said, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him, And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed. 53:5-7 Amplified Bible.
Jesus of Nazareth was the ultimate scapegoat chosen by the people, who did know that this was precisely God’s plan and purpose for their redemption. Jesus was the innocent victim, showing up the violent and hateful tendencies of humanity. His words from the Cross ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” show us the pathway to healing. His Resurrection on the third day broke the power of the cycle of abuse and completed the atonement.
How can we live in His victory or build resilience in the violent culture around us? How do we call out those in power to deal with unjust policies? It all starts in the Father’s heart to forgive, as Jesus forgave, by His wounds we are healed. As individuals build resilience and heal, we bring healing into the world with us instead of carrying the guilt and shame of those who chose us as their’ scapegoat.’ If we continue to take our hurt into the world, we keep repeating the cycle that the Israelites did, every year having to keep on sending a ‘scapegoat’ back into the wilderness. But Christ died once and for all as the atonement for mankind. May we learn to live in His Resurrection power.
Have you ever been ‘scapegoated’? If you want to share your story with me, please comment below or send an email in the Contact Page
Read the previous blogs on Generational Trauma as well for more insight