Avoiding Transformation...

This article is part of a series on scapegoating by Franciscian, Richard Rohr. It seems we always find some way to avoid the transformation of our pain. There’s the common way of fight. Fighters are looking for the evildoer, the sinner, the unjust one, the oppressor, the bad person “over there.” He or she “righteously” attacks, hates, or even kills the wrong-doer, while feeling heroic for doing so (see John 16:2). We are all tempted to project our problem on someone or something else rather than dealing with it in ourselves. The zealot—and we’ve all been one at different times—is actually relieved by having someone to hate, because it takes away our inner shame and anxiety and provides a false sense of innocence. As long as the evil is “over there” and we can keep our focus on changing or expelling someone else (as the contaminating element), then we feel at peace. But this is not the peace of Christ, which “the world cannot give” (see John 14:27). Playing the victim is another way to deal with pain indirectly. You blame someone else, and your pain becomes your personal ticket to power because it gives you a false sense of moral superiority and outrage. You don’t have to grow up, let go, forgive, or surrender—you just have to accuse someone else of being worse than you are. And sadly, that becomes your very fragile identity, which always needs more reinforcement. The other common way to avoid the path of transformation is the way of flight or denial. It can take many forms. Those with the instinct to flee will often deny or ignore pain by naively dividing the world up through purity codes and worthiness systems. They keep the problem on the level of...