What idea pops into your head when you hear the word scapegoat?
What a scapegoat is and isn’t seems to confuse people who frequently twist it like a pretzel to mean something else, as they cover the word with their own interpretation.
But words and their meanings matter so let’s grapple with this one to get it right; right?
The scapegoat concept is not confined to religion either; although this will come as a surprise to those who tend to blame it on the religious.
Yes popular culture gets the idea from Judaism and The Old Testament where a goat laden with boxes containing the described sins of the people is sent out into the wilderness as a sacrifice; and earns the name scapegoat.
And in Christianity Jesus Christs is regarded as the once off sacrifice of all time.
But the idea of a scapegoat predates religion and was prevalent in pagan cultures with the theme running throughout its ancient myths.
One example; a young king is sacrificed for the good of his tribe who believe his death will result in the favor of the gods and abundance.
The point being the scapegoat premise is as old as humanity itself and a major flaw of the race.
Which brings us back to the question what is the definition of a scapegoat?
It’s an innocent person given up for the sins and greater good of others; with the operative word in this case being innocent.
What it’s not; a person identifying as a victim, oppressed or blamed for something in itself, or without determination.
Vices like resentment and envy aren’t part of the scape goat equation for the obvious reason.
So then the sinful can’t be scapegoats but they can scapegoat the innocent; and often do.
It’s interesting that in ancient times anyone sacrificed who turned out to be a not-so-innocent was dismissed as no great loss; as opposed to a sacrifice for good.
Children can be made scapegoats in the aftermath of an acrimonious divorce and permanently sidelined; due to their parents’ sins for sure, but most of all because they living reminders of a past they would rather forget.
So they are made scapegoats by virtue of their existence.