Dr. Scapegoat feels obliged to reiterate what we all know. Scapegoating is alive and well as never before. There are so many areas of the world, so many nations and corporations, so many political and family system, where this ... read more
Dr. Scapegoat feels obliged to reiterate what we all know. Scapegoating is alive and well as never before. There are so many areas of the world, so many nations and corporations, so many political and family system, where this well understood process holds sway. As 2014 draws to a close, there is little evidence of a concerted effort to face up to the small and large catastrophes we all create by overtly participating in creating victims or just looking away. All of us.
Scapegoating is a human species addiction. It began in our very earliest moments and was certainly handed to us by our primate ancestors. We’re very good at it: seeking out useful scapegoats/blaming others/ “passing the buck.” As I’ve discussed in posts through the years, there are advantages to many members of the group who scapegoat. We gain resources, power, and prestige at the expense of those that we expel and weaken. We gain group homogeneity which helps us feel competent in many group tasks though rarely the most creative ones. And, paradoxically, the scapegoat, we, may gain as well, that is if we survive and are not crippled by becoming victims. We may feel free of constrains, more able to create their own life and even a new world around us. But the dangers and trauma of both roles always overweigh any of these gains. Eventually.
Recent knowledge about scapegoating dynamics may help though combating scapegoating requires moving insight into action and sacrifice, a rare commodity in a world captivated by individualism. Social media may be a help as well. It alerts us to Ferguson, to honor killings, to ‘legalized torture’, and a variety of other classic scapegoating maneuvers. It certainly helps us to organize on line and more rarely in the field. But it also allows us to feel better about what we don’t actually do. An email or a tweet helps us believe we have done something important so we can go about our lives as if we have acted more meaningfully.
There needs to be new reflection leading to action strategy to go with the new knowledge and communication technology. What? Three ideas (of many) for 2015.
1) We all need to take our ‘ interconnectedness’ much more seriously. We don’t really believe it. Climate is a good model for our denial and inaction. We behave as if we won’t be effected. We also act as if our actions help, the ones that make us feel better but do little to effect the problem But increasingly we can’t predict who will be most hurt by environmental warming and other human-aversive changes to Earth. We can’t continue to act like Colonials, living off others pollution because we all are victims as well as perpetrators.
Every decision we make goes into the collective hopper and creates negative consequences, many unintended, which usually means we didn’t carry the analysis far enough because we saw it was headed toward us. So we need to stay alert to a larger-than-comfortable decision tree and algorithm in all our decisions and actions. Most action takes place in remarkably small systems. A scapegoating analysis of a larger system must be complemented by similar analysis in the very small groups that move these behemoths. And those little systems, work groups, families, friendships are the hardest place to make changes because we need them so much. It’s where we recognize how fragile and imperfect we are, but also how we enact our personal and collective shadows onto the world.
2) With more than seven billion people we have to re balance individual and collective thinking. Human’s motivation and action is infinitely complex, rarely follows what we hope for ourselves and requires infinite compassion for self and other. We are capable of the empathy required but carrying that over to group and collectives is far more difficult. Group processes are more difficult to accept as our own. Scapegoating defines that denial. We rarely accept our complicity as self-serving individuals and act forcefully against it. It is because weso rarely sacrifice ourselves as individuals, even a little, that we end up being a part of the negative scapegoating dynamics of larger system.
3) Lets reconsider our use of poetry and poetic language as comfort food for our pain and guilt around how we scapegoat others. Verse about love and forgiveness (and justice, goodness, justice) are great things and have their importance in the world but they must not become musak for our conscience. Passionate closing benedictions can become selfie apologies devoid of real feeling or insight. When When overused I know something dark has happened that can only be faced with platitudes. I think we would all do better by keeping these loving feelings and values in our hearts and minds rather than not using them as veils for the shadows we create around us.
October 21, 2014 Leave a Comment
For a long time, I've been intrigued by the way leadership style trickles down in all beauracracies. The style of the leader, let's say the president or CEO, is emulated, copied, mimicked... all ways ... read more
September 26, 2014 Leave a Comment
Empires rise and fall and it is historically exciting to predict their beginnings and endings. The forces of instability that led to the so-called Arab uprising is linked to the first mention of a ... read more
August 26, 2014 Leave a Comment
What can a leader of a group do about scapegoating in his or her own group? It's too easy to say that it is one of leaderships most important jobs even though successful leaders must protect talent, ... read more
July 27, 2014 Leave a Comment
No surprisingly, since my last post in June, given the current events, Dr. Scapegoat has recieved several emails from Africa and the Middle East about the definition of ... read more
June 7, 2014 1 Comment
Why are high school and college students on a rampage against their peers? Eliot Rodgers' horrifying mayhem in Santa Barbara is so well documented by therapists, friends, police and parents that we ... read more
March 20, 2014 Leave a Comment
Hazing. It’s an activity I particularly dislike. Pain, humiliation and shaming are invoked to “make men and women” out of boys and girls. Think of it like whipping our kids--or slaves, when slaves ... read more