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Breaking the Cycle of Violence

Scapegoating and the Cross

Breaking the Cycle of Violence
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

I doubt very much that I need to point out the many ways we practice scapegoating in our society today. We do it on both the political left and right, in our churches and community groups, by finger-pointing and punishing. We are convinced that “they” (whoever “they” are) are the entirety of the problem. It takes great spiritual and psychological maturity to recognize and break the cycle.  Felicia Murrell, a writer, editor, and friend of the CAC, shares her own desire to walk a new and courageous path as an African American woman: 

It might feel good, after years of being shackled to scarcity, victimhood, poverty, suspicion, and inferiority, to project onto a scapegoat (holding the system complicit by association) the burden of hundreds of years of pain. We feel righteous. We long for someone else to feel what we feel or, at the very least, to validate that it’s okay for us to feel what we feel. Heavily laden with years and years of collective racial anger, misuse, and abuse, we lumber into liminality with all these feelings, these shackles of oppression.

And there, in liminal space—the space of sitting with our truths; the place of mystery, the unknown; the place where we let go of our injured expectations to be seen, to be known, to be welcomed—we offer ourselves what we’ve longed to have given to us. We acknowledge our feelings—the power and depth of each one—giving them space to roll through us, to breathe and take on life.

Instead of projecting outward or looking for resolution, we sit with them, breathe through them—allowing them to be as they are within us. We cry the tears our ancestors could not. We feel the fatigue they were not allowed to feel. We give in to the vulnerability that would have cost them their lives—not blaming, not finger-pointing, but honest truth-telling of our dehumanizing, painful history. On the threshold between what was and what will be, we unburden ourselves of our fierce, dogged determination to control the outcome of other people’s opinions of us, and there the alchemy happens.

With transformation comes power. . . . What will we do with our power? What will we call forth? There at the threshold, we decide. Do I wield my power to force control, to shape the narrative and determine what will be and how it will be? Do I allow myself to be honest about humanity’s failings and the abuse of power, seeing the ways in which I too could become like that which I oppose? Can I acknowledge the monster side of my humanity: lament it, forgive it, and let it go, realizing that it may cycle around again? . . .

In liminal space, I discover a formlessness that blurs the intersection of diversity and unity. The ambitious cry of, “’til all are one!” somehow morphs in liminal space and I realize we all are already one.

Reference:
Felicia Murrell, “Transition,” “Liminal Space,” Oneing, vol. 8, no. 1 (CAC Publishing: 2020), 31–32.

Story from Our Community:
When I was divorced from my husband of 32 years, I lost my marriage, my home, and my church. After enduring many years of rejection and hardship I came across Falling Upward. Since then I have been reading the daily meditations with Father Richard and the team. It restored my faith, changed my life, and helped me to heal from the deep hurt and scapegoating I encountered. I know I am profoundly loved by God. —Helen Y.

Image credit: Dorothea Lange, Village dwelling. Escalante, Utah (detail), 1936, photograph, public domain.
Image inspiration: Closed and shuttered, this house offers no welcome to a passerby. The sharp shadows of an unseen tree evoke the shadow of our often unacknowledged biases about who is “in” and who is “out.”
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