President Dwight D. Eisenhower once stated, “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.” Why is this so? Well, likely it’s the result of thousands of years of practice on the part of human beings. In fact, shifting the blame to another individual in any given situation is as old as humanity itself. Check out the Bible’s account of the first two humans, Adam and Eve, found in Genesis. It goes like this.
God says, “…‘Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’ ” (Genesis 3:11, NIV). Remember, God had issued one rule to Adam and Eve, that they were forbidden to eat from one tree in the Garden of Eden.
Adam responds, “ ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ ” (Genesis 3:12, NIV). Here Adam does what many of us would do when we’re caught red-handed. He blames someone else, in this case, Eve. Adam also tries subtly to put the blame back on God, saying, “And oh, by the way, God, you put this woman here with me!” (I paraphrase.)
“Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ ” (Genesis 3:13, NIV). Now, having the ball (ie., fruit) in her court, Eve blames the only person (or thing) left at the scene – the snake. “The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’ ” (Genesis 3:13, NIV).
Do you see how scapegoating rears its ugly head? When we play the blame game, no one is willing to take responsibility for their actions, it’s always someone else’s fault.
So just where does this term, “scapegoat” originate? It’s Biblical and dates as far back as the Old Testament of the Bible. More on that next time!