A scapegoat is essential in human culture. It’s the guy who gets blamed for things that happen, so we all feel better. It’s the person or thing that gets all the rage, all the hatred and malice. One of the most famous scapegoats was that poor ram in the story of Abraham. God asks Abraham to stab to death his only son, the promised son. The kid Abraham had waited on to carry on his lineage, something that was important back then.
Abraham builds an altar, puts his son on the altar and raises the knife to kill him as a sacrifice, asked for by God. Right at that moment, God halts this requested murder and shows Abraham a ram that is going to be a substitute. The scapegoat is killed instead and placed on the altar to burn. How nice for Issac!
Eve the Scapegoat
Before this, the children of Israel had a scapegoat, someone to blame. Eve ate the fruit and caused Adam to fall. It wasn’t his fault. Jokes are still told about Eve today. Even though Adam made the decision with eyes wide open, Eve was the scapegoat. She was to blame. Perhaps she was just a scapegoat to allow for thousands of years of patriarchal oppression?
My Family Scapegoat
I grew up with two brothers and two sisters. Whenever something happened that we knew we were going to get into trouble for, the scapegoat was always a choice. When mom and dad got a new television, we were all excited. I had no idea that I was going to find out what it felt like to be in the scapegoat’s shoes.
The time was before remotes, when children were the remote control for their parents. It was the first time the television actually had digital numbers that glowed red. We were fascinated. My sister was thirteen months older than me and, as the eldest, was often called upon by my parents to babysit us. We were alone, and she and I got into an argument on what we were going to watch on television.
You Broke It
I would turn the channel, and she would turn it back. Before long, we were both sitting in front of it wrestling over the knob. Her hand happened to be on it when the gears stripped inside the TV. I immediately pointed at her and said, “Awwwwww, you broke it, you are so gonna get it now!”
My sister began crying through her coke bottle lens glasses. Her long brown hair and a slender face looked down at the carpet in defeat. She knew she would probably get a beating for breaking the new TV. My father was skilled at whippings, and they weren’t classified as an expression of passivity. At first, I teased her because I was glad she was the one who blew it. I told her I was telling mom and dad as soon as they got home.
As the crying continued, I began to feel sorry for her. We were both teenagers and I was movable. She begged me to let her tell mom and dad because if she was responsible, it would maybe go better for her, and she wouldn’t get beat as hard. I relented, and we all waited with apprehension for the arrival of my parents.
When mom and dad came through the door I was kicked back with a bucket of popcorn in my mind, ready to watch the show. My sister was probably going to get a proper “arse whoopin” and then there would be more tears. She himmed and hawed for a few moments and then, went up to my parents and blurted out, “Kim broke the TV!” My jaw wasn’t only on the floor, I was in absolute shock. I had become the scapegoat.
My protest was so vehement that my parents didn’t punish either of us. They must have had money then and were able to fix it. When it’s just a small bump in the road, the scapegoat doesn’t get a whoopin! I survived but I know what it feels like to be the one who gets the blame when they are, in fact, innocent.
God & The Devil
There are two entities that become the scapegoat for us today. God and the devil share a pew. (toon with God and the Devil sitting on the pew-“which one of us supposedly did it this time?”) For those who are not religious, God is often the scapegoat. Every time someone dies, there’s one person who says, “God just needed another angel”. Another person loves to blame God when bad things happen to good people.
Now, for the religiously minded, the devil gets to be the scapegoat. Every time I had a cold, I rebuked the devil. Whenever things didn’t go my way, rebuke the devil. When I was late somewhere and traffic was bad, the devil. The devil got the brunt of the blame for everything annoying, irritating and what I considered “bad” in my life. The devil was actually a great scapegoat. He just took it and let me blame everything on him.
After my deconstruction, many walls of religion had fallen. I let go of thinking that Paul, Peter and the disciples were some kind of super christian, and we just had to swallow whatever they were shoveling because they were somehow perfect. My belief that the bible was infallible fell flat as well. When I discovered that Hell wasn’t even the construct that I had been led to believe, the devil wasn’t far from being exposed as a figure needed to pull off religious fear and intimidation.
The thing that was difficult for me outside of religion was the fact that I had lost my scapegoat. I couldn’t blame anyone for when things sucked. There was no one to rebuke when my intrusive thoughts from anxiety would start spinning out of control. I began to realize that religion, by causing me to believe in the devil, had given me a great coping skill. I had to learn a new way.
Now, I have learned that when things go bad for good people, I don’t have to blame God. In the same respect, if my car breaks down, I have to replace the air conditioner in the house, or the electric bill is really high, the devil didn’t do it. Now, I realize that life has good and bad things that happen and our character shines through depending on how we respond. The choice is now ours, and we are no longer subject to making anyone else the scapegoat.
Available publications by Kimberly
All Things Equal, an exposition for women and how God sees them
For Nicholas: An encounter with the parents of Nicholas that changed perceptions.
The Needs Of The One: An encounter with a schizophrenic man that touched my soul.
Farm Lessons: Life and Death lessons are every day on a farm.
Check out this recent blog by clicking here.
Read, “When the Good News Goes Bad” by clicking here.
You can find me on Facebook at “PK Langley”
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