Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Corner View - Traditions



Most traditions, including Christmas, are related to the scapegoat mechanism, which is at the root of all human behaviour. Although it was Kenneth Burke who discovered what had been lying in wait for us for so many centuries, it was René Girard who first really understood its significance. In order for humans to bond and operate effectively, we need to isolate a scapegoat and kill or punish him/her/it ruthlessly, be it a goat, a sheep, a turkey or a fellow human being.

The top photo is of the Temple of Baal at Baalbeck in Lebanon, possibly the most monumental building ever constructed by man, and the greatest temple ever to the cult of scapegoatism. Human sacrifice took place there on a massive scale.


When I was there in the summer of 2006, two Israeli soldiers, who'd just been captured, were being held in an adjacent building, and were about to be sacrificed. One thousand other people were killed in the war to rescue them. There is no blame, only human tradition. There have always been scapegoats. Sometimes we nail them to crosses, sometimes we burn them on bonfires, sometimes we make effigies of them and beat them to death, sometimes we bully them at school, sometimes we have commissions to weed them out, sometimes we gas them in concentration camps. We usually laugh about it at the time: it is our way and our tradition. In the part of the world I live in, the greatest tradition is to kill a goat: the scapegoat.



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10 comments:

  1. "The greatest tradition is to kill a goat".... Yes, sad but true.
    I sometimes have difficulties watching the world as it is, sometimes very cynical, and I find myself dreaming of some utopia world where the good and truth prevail, and where the being stronger does not always equal to being right.

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  2. Terrible truth. "There have always been scapegoats" and we could all be the scapegoat of somebody else...

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  3. pffff....but than, they kill a turkey for the thanksgiving tradition....or they eat turkey with xmast....

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  4. it's crude. such is life too. crude. yeah. food for thought.

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  5. If you are born and raised sheltered like me, you tend to disavow these brutish aspects of the world. But if you confront yourself with that, you might come to the conclusion that under certain circumstances life is just "eat or be eaten". To be honest, I sometimes prefer to keep my eyes closed to this, so that my little ideal world stays idyllic...

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  6. So dark, but unfortunately true. Thanks for giving us all something to think about. Happy Holidays!

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  7. Oh my, you selected a very dark corner to shine the light of tradition on. Each and every day I am fully aware of the fact that scapegoats are sought and found - here, there and everywhere. There is no light without the dark, is there?

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  8. its really sad to know, innocent animals are killed brutally

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