“When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.
“The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.
– Leviticus 16:20-22, 26
Why is it that bosses can reject everything in the Bible, break all the Ten Commandments, and ridicule anyone saying anything about God, but they believe with all their being in the scapegoat?
That’s a silly question. The scapegoat did nothing wrong. The scapegoat is innocent. They are thinking, ‘Let the scapegoat take the fall, and I shall reign supreme. Someone else has taken the blame in my place. My record remains spotless.’
Scapegoat management is even taught in management classes. The project management instructor may be saying it as a joke, but they often have visual aids devoted to it. They put up a chart that goes through the phases of any type of project. The last two phases of the project are always “Blame the innocent. And the final phase – Bask in the Glow of a Completed Project.”
If project management instructors could resist the joke, bosses would find a way of figuring out the idea on their own. It is called a sinful nature.
I have taken on the role of scapegoat many times. My second commanding officer in the Army tried to defer all the problems that he had caused onto me upon my final efficiency review when I was being transferred. The only problem was that everything that he said was weak in my character was what his boss, the battalion commander, said was my strength. The direct contradiction between my boss and my boss’ boss meant that the efficiency review would eventually be ignored, but it could have ruined my career if I stayed in the military. I wasn’t as fortunate on the next occasion, leaving lasting enemies that stayed in the shadows until I left their employment. My guilt? I had one person on a team activity falsify his input to a major pre-operation procedure, creating a flaw, and another person on the project violating the procedure (an offense worthy of termination). Both things had to happen for the resulting problem to occur. As a result, there was a spill of ten gallons of relatively clean water (but treated as being contaminated – The procedure was written to flush the pipes clean.). While I investigated the incident, management decided in a meeting without inviting me, regardless of facts, I was the ‘fall guy’. My investigative report was thrown in the trash. They couldn’t have facts prove the bosses wrong. After that incident, my pay increases were reduced and delayed, and promotions and transfers were blocked. I finally got another job 7 years later.
My wife was often blamed for other people’s mistakes. At one workplace, the management of the hospital had heard that this, that, and the other thing were being done in the surgical wing, violating company policies and endangering patients. So, management went to the surgical nurse’s lounge to investigate. Not knowing who was to blame, they asked the person who was guilty of ‘this’ (walking out of surgery in the middle of a case) and she said that my wife was the one doing ‘this’. Management then turned to the person who was guilty of ‘that’… You get the picture. One of the innocent nurses, who was in the lounge at the time (innocent of the ‘crimes’, but guilty of keeping her mouth shut while everyone else slandered my wife), told my wife that her problem was that she worked all day and never spent time in the lounge. Management told the surgical nursing supervisor that someone had to go… When none of the problems went away, the surgical nursing supervisor was the next out the door. The miscreants were still in the lounge, laughing and dodging as much work as possible. Management collected their bonuses for having dealt with the problem, but the patients remained in danger.
My younger son has seen the same thing, and been the victim, in both fast food as a shift manager and the education system as a teacher.
I think back to my training as a young Army officer. When I heard something that matched my Christian values, it became a part of me. I followed that part of the officer’s code of ethics. When my men did something great, they got the credit, and I usually paid for the ensuing party. When my men screwed up, I took the blame. After all, they would not have screwed up if I had not failed in leading them. Yet, for my entire life, the world grabs that innocent scapegoat and releases it into the wilderness.
The problem is that the manager who placed the blame on the innocent is never atoned with God. He dodged the issue artfully, and learned that, in this case, crime does pay. He (or She) is primed to do it again. You cannot be “At One” with God (or atoned), if your actions reinforce the temptation to sin again.
This scapegoat thing is just a part of the Day of Atonement as prescribed in the entire 16th chapter of Leviticus. The scapegoat idea is to place the sins of all the people of Israel onto the poor goat and send the goat into the wilderness, alone and defenseless – but most importantly, separated. The concept is that we are to get as far away from our sins as possible. The idea is NOT for us to get as far away from the backlash, punishment, and troubles caused by our sins, so that we can sin again while carefully looking for the next scapegoat. I think that my second experience with being the scapegoat, described above, did not end in termination because they needed me to be around for the next time. Their evil intent kept me employed.
When we sin, we must repent. We must turn from our sin and go as far away from that sin as possible. Finding someone else to blame should never be our reaction, but it is the reaction of the world.
Those times as a scapegoat shape us. We can become bitter or we can praise God for allowing us to grow in faith while being faced with injustice.
Once, about 2,000 years ago, Jesus was nailed to a tree, the ultimate scapegoat, but once there, He made full Atonement for all who believe and trust in Him.
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.