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Holy Week: Tribe, Trauma, Transaction

Holy Week: Tribe, Trauma, Transaction March 30, 2015

Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies

Do you remember reading William Golding’s Lord of the Flies?

A group of civilized English schoolboys are stranded on a desert island and soon turn savage. They form a tribe to hunt, and then their child like fears evolve into a primitive religion. They soon project their anger and frustration on the boys who are oddballs and outsiders. Then they isolate the scapegoat, persecute, cast out and finally destroy him as a sacrifice.

This is what human beings do. All around the world and down through history we become tribal members. The tribe exists for itself and is greater than the individual in it. The tribe is the source of safety, the repository of wisdom and the means of defense. Individual submit their own will to the tribe for survival for the tribe gives them what they need.

The tribe always indulges in groupthink. In a classic defensive mood it denies its own evil and projects the evil onto others. The tribe always seeks the sacrificial lamb, the scapegoat and the victim.

In Holy Week we see the Jews acting out the classic tribal behaviors. The high priest sums up the attitude of the whole of tribal humanity when he says, “It is better that one man should die than all should suffer.” Lest we see the Jews as the only ones who do this–they are only the mirror that shows us what we all do.

The tribe huddles together like a pack of threatened animals.

The tribe then enacts the trauma. They mock. They spit. They despise. They heap onto the victim all their own evil and the evil of the whole world.

Why does this happen? The logic is simply and chilling: “If that person is the one who is the cause of all the trouble, then by getting rid of that one person the tribe will be safe again.” So the trauma continues. The victim must be punished and humiliated and finally destroyed and furthermore, the tribe forces every member of the tribe to participate. You cannot stand on one side while the insults and the stones are being hurled. Not to join in with the condemnation and destruction of the victim is to criticize the tribe and be on the side of the victim, and the one who is on the side of the victim will be the next victim.

Down through history we see this behavior time and again. In modern society too we look for the victim to crucify. The tribe rises up and inflicts the trauma.

Then, in this holy week, there follows something which does not happen anywhere else. Continue Reading

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