Many years ago, on the day of atonement, towns would hold ceremonies in which they would place all of their sins into a single goat and then cast it out in the desert, presumably to die of thirst or starvation, in order to purge themselves of their own misdeeds and guilt. While the whole town celebrated being lifted of the burden of sin, one poor goat, which was chosen because he was "without blemish," was forced to die a slow, miserable death in the hot desert just beyond the town's borders.
However, in these modern times, we'd like to think that we've grown beyond that barbaric act, that in the development of our modern culture we've rid ourselves of the need to do something so cruel, so foolish and so useless. But there's a reason that the word "scapegoat" has lingered in our modern vocabulary, dangling over our sense of justice like a storm cloud on a green pasture. Even today we cast our proverbial goats out of the city walls and leave them today just so we can walk away from the ordeal feeling better about ourselves and our own tainted human nature.
Because in this day of television and Internet, we are forever confronted by the vices and grievances of the human animal. While we are probably no more a cruel species than we were hundreds of years ago, it's only now that nearly every element of our dark human nature is thrown squarely in our faces, plastered all over the front page of your daily paper and strewn across images on your television.
But even though our eyes are constantly confronted with the truth about human beings and the way they really work, our minds rarely meet the challenge. It's not enough to realize that human beings are sometimes evil creatures who do bad things for no good reason whatsoever, we must seek out a cause, an invisible enemy, something to pin the fault of our own humanity on.
Indeed, the only thing that's changed since those times hundreds and thousands of years ago is that our targets are no longer animal. While we may no longer cast goats from our city walls, we cast our blame on the media, the government and anything else that we can safely take our frustrations out on. Like a prisoner punching at the walls we seek to destroy the symptoms of our incarceration, not cure the causes.
Yet here we are, as a society, unable to confront our own damnable nature and attacking our own freedoms, our own ideals just to prevent us from looking within ourselves and seeing this world, this messed up, screwed up world, for what it is. We don't live in a world invented by the media, by marketers or by the evils of the corporate elite, we live in a world made up of billions of imperfect beings, unable to look at their own faults for even a second and admit that their human nature is not ideal and their innocence is not perfect.
If you think we live in a violent society, then you need to realize we all have blood on our hands. While murderers may be scoundrels who act on their own accord, we have to realize that the morals and values we hold as a society have an impact and play a major role in determining the types of citizens we breed. At best, video games and action movies are just a mirror of what we project, an example of marketers giving us exactly what we want and pushing things exactly as far as we'll let them go.
Scapegoating, in all its forms, does nothing but dilute the truth. Be it the slow murder of an innocent animal or the blaming of an abstract concept, all you can achieve by blaming something undeservingly is diverting attention from the cold truth and the more time we spend storming castle doors and torching witch's houses, the further and further we get away from addressing the real problems, the problems that lie inside each and everyone one of us.
But even though these are problems that may never be solved, until we confront them without merely passing the blame, we're never going to have the faintest clue as to what we can do about them…