For Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, the ancient Hebrews would take two goats—one to be sacrificed to the Lord, the other to carry the sins of the people away into the desert. So it was this “’scape goat” who, although it did escape sacrifice, bore the burden of the people’s sins. It seems that any closely-knit group has to have their designated scapegoat on whom to dump all their shit.
Most people find it hard to admit to any wrongdoing on their part, so they need to blame somebody else, anybody or anything, except themselves. Check out, for instance, what historical events that gay people have been blamed for: the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the fall of the Roman Empire, the plague in Constantinople (A.D. 543), the fall of Visigothic Spain to the Muslims, the decline of medieval Arabic civilization, the Black Plague, the decline of Renaissance Italy, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, as well as earthquakes in California, the rise of Nazi Germany, the mid-1970s drought in the western U.S., the 9/11/01 attack on the World Trade Center, and, of course, AIDS. You know all the hurricanes and other national disasters that befall the state of Florida and its environs on a regular basis? Well, evangelist Pat Robertson says it’s because of Gay Day at Walt Disney World! But earthquakes and droughts? Come on! Although, I have been told by my lovers that I have made the earth move on occasion.
We could look at it in another way. Instead of blaming the innocent gays, maybe all these regular natural disasters are meant as a wake-up call to the evildoers and misanthropes in this country and abroad. Maybe they are the ones who prompt all those unfortunate events. It’s too bad that those undeserving individuals have to suffer, but there are always resultant casualties, I’m sorry to say.
Haven’t you noticed that when Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Irma wreaked their havoc on Louisiana, Texas and Florida, the country came together to offer financial aid and relief to the storm victims? We had neighbors helping neighbors and strangers helping other strangers without any regard to color, ethnicity, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. Why can’t we do that all of the time? Why does it take a devastating storm or earthquake for people to be kind and civil to each other?
But why no telethon or relief appeal only a few days later when Mexico was hit by a major earthquake and Cuba and Puerto Rico were virtually destroyed by Hurricane Maria? Or they could use part of the money raised from the telethon–over 44 million dollars–to help those other people as well. Why the biased neglect? Aren’t those neighboring Latinos entitled to the same help as our own people here on the home front? We are not discriminating, are we?
People are often unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions. Like when somebody commits a serious crime, all their family and friends will do all they can to get the perpetrator off and will be upset with anyone who interferes. “Don’t you realize that your testimony could send my daughter to prison for life? How could you do that to her? If she is convicted, it will be all your fault.” “My fault? But the bitch killed five innocent people! We should let her off the hook just because she‘s your daughter?”
A man intercepts an assassination attempt by a group of terrorists and kills one of them in the process. Now the man and his family are targeted for death by the brother of the slain terrorist. “I’ll make you pay for killing my brother!” But, excuse me, what was your brother doing when he got killed? Some people think that they can do anything they want to and get away with it, with no repercussions. I think if anyone commits a misdeed, they must take responsibility for it and must suffer the ensuing consequences—relative, child, parent, friend, loved one or self, I don’t care who they are!
There are those who accuse others of ruining their life. Your life is what you make of it; nobody can ruin it for you. Bad things happen to everybody. If you don’t like the way your life is going, then change it. Some people have a single goal in life, and if things don’t work out as they would like, they think that their life is ruined. Don’t despair. Just get on with it. Do something else. Next! It’s ruined if you just lie around wallowing in self-pity and blaming everybody else for your own failures.
Then on the other side, we have those who tend to harbor feelings of guilt for things that they have nothing to do with. They want to take a person’s actions as their own personal affront. “It’s all my fault! If I had stayed home today, none of this would have happened! … I must be the reason Daddy drinks. It’s all my fault … My parents got divorced because of me … How dare you die on me!” Well, maybe it’s not about you at all. Don’t flatter yourself. People do things for their own selfish reasons which may not even involve you.
While I believe that everything happens for a reason, it does not mean that certain adversities in life cannot be prevented. One of my staunch contentions is that there are no accidents, in the sense of things happening that are beyond our control. We all have choices and free will in life, and while things can happen to us unexpectedly or unintentionally, we are always somehow responsible. The choices we make in life bring about the things that happen to us. Carelessness, unawareness and deliberateness on our part are what cause what we like to refer to as accidents. Accident, therefore, is something people invented as a scapegoat so that we don’t have to take any or partial responsibility for our own actions. People are so quick to call anything an accident, if it will let them off the hook. For example, “I didn’t break your window on purpose, Mr. Wilson. It was an accident.” “But, Dennis, you threw the ball at my house, didn’t you? That was no accident. If you had made the choice to throw it in another direction, you wouldn‘t have broken my window.”
If people did not choose to drive automobiles, there would never be any traffic “accidents.” How does one accidentally have a head-on collision with another vehicle? That requires very specific action on both drivers’ parts. Did each driver expect the other to swerve out of the way in time? “She was involved in a hit-and-run accident.” Oh, you mean that somebody accidentally ran her down in the street and then accidentally fled the scene? “I didn’t mean to shoot him. The gun went off accidentally.” Guns don’t go off by themselves. Somebody has to pull the trigger. If you didn’t mean to shoot him, why were you pointing a loaded gun at him? Just like you can’t accidentally shoot yourself in the head while playing Russian Roulette or accidentally get somebody pregnant.
Rock star Janis Joplin was said to have died from an “accidental” heroin overdose. Maybe she didn’t mean to die at that time, but she wouldn’t have OD’d if she hadn’t being doing an excessive amount of heroin, would she? That goes for all the other “accidental deaths“ that we hear about, due to drug overdosing. “That torrential rain that we had created a mudslide that accidentally caused my house to roll down the hill into the sea.” But you are the one who chose to live in a house built on stilts on the side of a dirt hill. The house didn’t just happen there all by itself. “Oops! My dog just had an accident on your new couch.” That was no accident. He meant to take a shit there! Otherwise he would have done it somewhere else or waited to be taken outside. We all take certain chances and risks in our daily lives and just hope that nothing bad happens as a result of the choices that we make.
There is another convenient scapegoat and watchdog that we humans have to blame all our foibles on and who cannot defend itself, and it’s called “Society.” Society sets all the rules and standards of all human behavior, morals, protocol, etiquette, style and fashion. Everything that we do, we have to answer to Society for our actions. “Society does not approve of that … by Society’s standards … In our Society, that just isn’t done.” Society seems to be analogous with God. We think that it will take care of all our problems and situations for us. But who is this Society person that we are always kowtowing to? I thought that I was part of Society. Then aren’t we all Society? Answering to Society is, in essence, answering to ourselves. If I enjoy having sex with my boyfriends and it’s all right with them, why should I have to consult this Society creature to get its permission?
They do a similar convention with “America” and even “the World.” “The News That Shocked America.” Nothing shocks me. “’Three’s Company’ was America’s favorite sitcom.” It was? I didn’t even like that show. Aren’t I a part of America? A few people may have an opinion about something and it becomes all of America’s concern. “Entertainment Tonight” actually made this announcement one night. “The world (!?) is anxiously waiting to get a glimpse at Jennifer Anniston’s wedding ring.“ Whew, that’s a relief! It’s good to know that I was not the only one who was waiting for that. Can you believe such ridiculous hyperbole?
Then we have the arrogance of knowing everybody’s mind and what they like or don’t like. Progress has often been stifled by Society. We used to get, “Society is not ready to accept People-of-Color or gays in positive TV and movie roles,” for example. Well, how would “It” had ever gotten ready if “It” was never exposed to these and other things?
Many would agree that one of the most hated men in history is Adolf Hitler because of the 8 million or more people he supposedly had killed during the Nazi regime in 1940’s Germany. Now I am not saying that it didn’t happen and I am not defending or excusing Hitler’s personal agenda or his campaign to eliminate the Jews and other “undesirables,” but let’s think about who is really at fault. Hitler himself did not actually murder all of those people. He only expressed his desire to have it done. Just because somebody wants something, it doesn’t mean that they will always get it. (The people in Hell would like some ice water, too!) It was Hitler’s disciples and minions who did the actual killings. So they are really the ones to blame, along with all those who stood idly by and let it all happen. I consider it utter bullcrap when those Nazi soldiers and SS officers say that they had to do what they did under superior order. “We didn’t have a choice.” Of course, they did. We all have the power of free will always to make choices in our lives. Nobody has to do anything, except die some day. Everything else that we do in life is a matter of choice.
What would have happened if nobody had complied with Hitler’s wishes? If he had gotten rid of all his subordinates who defied him, there wouldn’t have been anybody left to work for him. They could have called his bluff. Things would have turned out very differently. He’s only one man. How could he have accomplished that all by himself? Somebody could have stopped him for even trying. It’s one thing only to think evil deeds, and another to carry them out. I have learned that Hitler was just a capricious blow-hard anyway. He would come up with these stupid ideas about harming innocent people, and his fawning sycophants would obligingly go along with it. “Duh, okay, Mein Führer, I’ll do it. You can count on me.“
Likewise, King Herod didn’t murder all those babies. His soldiers did all of the killings for him. “With all due respect, Your Majesty, instead of murdering all those innocent babies, why don’t we get rid of your ass instead?! That would be far less trouble and effort.” Just like I don’t blame the Rev. Jim Jones for getting all those more than 900 people in Guyana to commit suicide with him. The man was obviously a nut. I blame the people themselves for listening to his crazy butt. So then I can’t fault Hitler for having such nefarious notions. People can think what they please. I resent more the ones who put his misanthropic ideas into action and allowed it to continue for as long as it did, and there were many who complied and accepted the situation.
This was no covert operation. The German and other nations’ citizens knew exactly what was going on. I learned that some of the massacres were not done in secret, but in broad daylight with crowds of people witnessing the proceedings. They have it all on film! It became a social event, with people gathering at the lynching sites, and they would stand on the sidelines hooting and cheering as men, women and even children were being dispatched. It was no different how they behaved at other public executions over the centuries. They wouldn’t even bury the dead bodies properly, but leave limbs and heads sticking out of the ground as reminders of what was done. Hitler can’t be blamed for any of that.
Some still even consider Adolf Hitler to have been a great man. I would agree with that in the sense that “great” does not necessarily mean “good” all the time. Alexander the Great’s “greatness” was his military ability for national conquests, which required killing a lot of people in the process. And although Peter the Great did a lot of good for Russia during his reign, he was also deemed a sadist and tyrannical despot. A great person can be one with major influence on the world at large and with much political power. Hitler certainly had that, to get all those followers to do his every bidding, misguided as he was.
I am curious if future history accounts will determine George W. Bush Jr. to be our modern-day Hitler. Look at what all he got his people to do for him during his Reign of Terror as Governor of Texas and then President of the United States. His Let’s-Go-to-War-and-Destroy-Our-Enemies speeches were awfully similar to the ones Hitler made during his leadership. His concerted campaign to “wipe out all the evil in the world where it exists” is the same thing Hitler said about the Jews and other non-Aryans. Just because those Jewish victims didn’t fight back, it doesn’t make this other situation less heinous.
All that war is really is disguised, sanctioned genocide. Bush often lied to the American public in order to justify his actions and decisions. Evil has always existed in the world, so why does Bush think that it was his sole responsibility completely to eradicate it? Why didn’t he clean up his own house first before worrying about other countries and the world at large? Consider that people were not on to Hitler either until it was too late. Only time will tell. Keep in mind that there was another time when somebody listened to a Bush, and the people ended up wandering around in the desert for forty years!
People can be so apathetic about other’s woes, as if nothing will ever happen to themselves. And some seem to be under the false impression that people they know personally are incapable of any wrongdoing. It’s only strangers that commit all the crime in the world, you see. I don’t put anything past anybody, I don‘t care who you are!
Here is one film scenario. A young housewife, who is normally law-abiding, is driving on a country road when she inadvertently runs down a child on her bicycle, putting her into a coma. The driver tried to call it an accident, although she had just been drinking, and she wasn’t watching the road at the time. So since the woman has no phone to call anyone, she leaves the girl by the side of the road and drives away to get help, with the intent of returning to the scene. But while she is gone and before she can tell anyone what has happened, the injured girl is discovered by another motorist who reports the situation as a hit-and-run. Now the woman who hit the girl is afraid to come forward as the one who did it. So she keeps quiet about it.
When the news gets out to the media, her friends and family are outraged and proceed to lambaste and badmouth the “despicable person who did that. I hope that they catch the guy and throw them in jail for the rest of their life!” Of course, they would say that only about some unknown party, because nobody they know could do such a thing, right? But I doubt if their sentiment would be the same if they knew their close friend or relative was the actual culprit. Their moral standards radically change then. And that is where the hypocrisy comes in. A bad action is apparently unacceptable and inexcusable when a complete stranger does it, and not so when a loved one is the guilty party. But if you have such a strong, negative opinion about a misdeed, it shouldn’t make any difference who commits it.
A couple discovers that their teenage son has killed his pregnant girlfriend. Should the parents keep quiet and try to protect the boy or should they tell what they know? Of course they don’t want to get him convicted. After all, it’s their kid. But if it was their own child that was murdered, and the killer’s parents knew it, I’m sure they would want them to come forward. Always put yourself in the other person’s place. A mother claims to be a staunch advocate of capital punishment, until her own son ends up on Death Row. Cold-blooded murder is far less heinous when Daddy is doing it. Every criminal and victim is somebody’s relative or loved one. Just because they are not yours personally, does not change the situation.
Here is a situation which is not criminal but hypocritically judgmental nonetheless. I saw a teleplay about a wartime soldier (portrayed by Jacques Bergerac) whose term is up and is about to be released from active duty. When he phones his family to alert them of his arrival, they all are overjoyed about his homecoming. The soldier then tells them that he has a friend with him, who saved his life, and he would like to bring him along. They were all for the idea until he added that his friend had been wounded in action and is now missing a leg. Oh. Now they all change their tune. Oh, dear! Do they really want to spend time with a disabled person? “Uh, son, we appreciate what your friend did for you and all, and he is most welcome here, but don’t you think that he will be out of place? He won’t be able to ride with us or swim or do anything. We will help him in anyway we can, if he needs further treatment or financial assistance. But don’t bring him with you, dear. It just wouldn’t be convenient. You understand, don’t you?”
When he hangs up the phone, the guy tells his friend that he has changed his mind and will not be going home after all. Then he gets up to leave, and we see for the first time that he is the one with the missing leg! So his family revealed their true colors! They couldn’t be bothered when they thought the poor, unfortunate crip was someone they didn‘t know. I don’t think they would have expressed those sentiments to their son directly, even though now we know what they really think about it. I think he must have already suspected how his parents would react, which is why he first put them to the test.
We might consider changing the way we express certain things, too. Those aspects about ourselves that we had nothing to do with and, in most cases, can’t do anything about—that is, our gender, our ethnicity, our sexual orientation, and the mere circumstances of our birth—we should not be held responsible for. If a female is being subjected to sexual harassment or mistreatment, it’s not her fault. People say, “She was treated that way because she’s a woman.” No, she wasn’t. She was treated that way because of sexism. She can’t help it that she was born a woman. “He was discriminated against because of his color.” No, he wasn’t. He was discriminated against because of racism. What, we should all change our color at will to please certain people? “He was a fine worker, but we had to let him go because he’s a homosexual.” No, that’s not the reason. You let him go because you are homophobes. He was a homosexual when you hired him.
In all of these instances, they make it sound as if certain people are liable by their very being and deserve the mistreatment that they receive. “She’s an illegitimate child, you know.” Why is the stigma of illegitimacy always placed on the innocent child? It’s the parents, not the child, who are “illegitimate,” if you want to use that word. I don’t think that childbirth should be a matter of legality anyway. It’s not against the law to be born or to give birth, and a child is not responsible for its own birth. If you have to say anything, I think that “out-of-wedlock child” is a better term to use. It explains the situation without being morally-judgmental about it. But even that terminology is now outdated and inappropriate. A woman does not have to be married to have a baby. In fact, there are probably as many children worldwide born out-of-wedlock than those who are not. Let’s put the blame where it lies—on the accusatory bigots, not on the innocent subjects.
People need to realize, too, that we are all connected in some way, and anything done to somebody else is going to affect ourselves at some point. No one is exempt from global adversity. Some people think that nothing bad will ever happen to them. Bad things happen only to other people. So as long as it’s not their own problem, they don’t worry or care about anybody else. And when something bad does happen to so-called “good” people, it’s often questioned. “Why me, Lord? What did I do to deserve all this misfortune?” Well, it may not be something that you did, exactly, but rather something that you did not do.
Maybe you denied help to a fellow human in need or allowed a fellow classmate to be harassed and bullied. Maybe you sat quietly by and said nothing when your co-workers made an ethnic slur or said something that was disrespectful to women or gays. Things that affect seemingly only a few people, affect everybody. So then everyone is affected by racism, sexism and homophobia, not just People-of-Color, women and homosexuals. If you put any degree of hate or intolerance out into the world, and that includes the act of willful indifference, it will eventually come back to you. You know, what goes around, comes around. I firmly believe that. And I have seen definite indications of it throughout my life, too.