One of the benefits of studying the work of Rene Girard is that he not only explains one aspect of the ancient sacrificial systems, but because he was an anthropologist he also sheds light on what happens within society and the dynamics of the nation or group.
What happens when a society descends into crisis and then chaos? Eventually the group comes together to find what the problem is, and they affix blame on a particular individual or group. Because the chaos is irrational and there is no instantly identifiable cause, the person or group they pick on will seem to be random. However, the propagandists for the tribe will find reasons why that person or group are the cause of the problem.
In most recent memory, we see this with the anti-Semitism of the Nazis. The Jews were the problem. There were others too–the homosexuals, the gypsies, the Poles, Jehovah’s Witnesses–but the Jews were the major problem. Once they were scapegoated effectively they were an open target. The whole society could fix the blame on them and first isolate them, then deport them, then eliminate them.
One of the things I fear in the present disintegration of American society into mindless violence is that eventually this mechanism will kick in. If things continue to disintegrate into more school shootings, more mindless bombings, mass killings and murder-suicides, then eventually ordinary people will rise up and choose a leader who will help them identify whoever is to blame, and that leader will point out the individuals or the group who are to blame and when the people turn on that group, the persecution will begin.
The persecution will be just as mindless and terrifying as the holocaust, and it will be supported by the state and by all “good citizens.”
This is what happens. Read history. It is written in practically every age in some way or other in some place or other.
Pray that this does not happen, but if we continue down the path of this mindless violence, buckle your seat belts. Its going to be a bumpy ride.
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