You must have seen an accused smiling while facing the camera. When you see that you should know that the accused has identified a scapegoat. Scapegoats prevail in every imaginable group. It is the easiest of all hunting expeditions. A competent politician can be a scapegoat. His presence can make the weaknesses of others apparent. We are very reluctant self-blamers. We like to believe and convey that our grudges, hatred and actions are legitimate and justified. But in our hearts, we know that we are not that innocent. We seek someone to blame for a problem or crisis whose solution is not immediately known to us.
Scapegoat, the bearer of the sins of the people, is someone who is made to stomach the blame of others. Finding a scapegoat gives immediate gratification. In early tribal cultures, a ritual was performed in which all the sins of the tribe were symbolically transferred to a goat. The goat was then driven off into the wilderness. It was a way to expel the sins by transferring them to the goat. The best time to find scapegoats is when an actual crisis goes out of control, or an incipient crisis is brewing.
Most families have their scapegoats. They are like punching bags that absorb emotional outbursts of others. Because of the family scapegoats, the family seemingly appears emotionally stable and healthy. They not only have to deal with their own emotions, but also with the repressed emotions of other family members. Often, the family scapegoats are willing targets. They accept blame in the larger interest of the family. Some countries have the tradition of making idiots of themselves for worthy causes. Family scapegoats occasionally behave in the same way. In some cases, these scapegoats begin to believe that the crisis is due to their own failing. Family scapegoats are very useful, but we generally don’t recognise their usefulness in maintaining the stability of the family structure. We know their value once they are gone.
Scapegoatism is an unjust victimisation of the innocent. We often choose the weak as scapegoats, as they can’t or don’t resist, and thus are easier scapegoat targets. The situation is something like this: You are unhappy the way your boss treats you. You can’t kick him, but you certainly can kick your faithful dog when you return home. The unfortunate dog did not deserve the kick, will vainly bark for some time, but being faithful would come back to you to get another kick. Then there are quiet and active scapegoats. Quiet scapegoats are more obscure, but can be as powerful as active scapegoats. Among the many scapegoats, Mark Twain said, the most popular is providence.