In our society, it seems it is always someone else’s fault when things go wrong. It is hard for many people to admit fault when relationships go bad or organizations experience diﬃcult times. Taking personal responsibility is not easy. Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center, writes, “Shifting the blame is the oldest tactic known to humankind for avoiding taking responsibility for our actions. While shifting the blame may seem innocuous enough, it is deadly.”. This action is called scapegoating.
There is an organization in England, the Scapegoat Society that serves as a resource both for people who have experienced being a scapegoat and for people working professionally to resolve scapegoat problems. Scapegoating is found in all walks of life.
The origin of the term scapegoat is found in the Old Testament. The biblical scapegoat is a powerful image of Jesus taking away the sins of the world. The scapegoat is described in Leviticus 16:5–10:
The iniquities and transgressions of all Israel were laid on the head of the scapegoat. Aaron spoke and confessed over the goat all the iniquities and transgressions. Aaron spoke to the goat, and he touched the goat. Clearly, the scapegoat is a foreshadowing of the cruciﬁxion of Jesus. On the cross Jesus carried on his body all the iniquities and sin of humankind. God could not look at Jesus, the sin-bearer. For the ﬁrst time in the relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father there was a separation. Perfect communion was broken and Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus had become the scapegoat in the wilderness, bearing not his sin, but the sin of all humanity. He was totally alone in the wilderness!