Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 27: Fear and Anger
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 27: Fear and Anger

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Fear and anger inspire much human destructiveness. Fear results from a threat of harm to oneís body or psyche. As discussed in Part 25, a fundamental human fear is death, because the human psyche is terrified by the prospect of the destruction of the self. Death-transcending projects help to assuage oneís fear of death, and people need good self-esteem to believe that these projects will be successful. (See part 26.)

As discussed in parts 4 and 5, the mind is often a slave to the emotions. Consequently, the mind often seeks rationalizations to promote self-esteem. For example, when feeling humiliated, people tend to direct their blame and anger at other people rather than acknowledge their own shortcomings. Also, those who appear to gain self-esteem by virtue of membership in a group (e.g., Whites) avoid considering evidence that contradicts White-supremacist views.

Anger results from feelings of helplessness or powerlessness and is closely related to fear. Things that anger people also damage self-esteem. While oneís anger is almost always directed externally, it always reflects oneís own, internal concerns about self-worth and competence.

Anger is a powerful emotion that can easily override reason. People rarely take ownership of their own anger, tending instead to blame others for their anger. Consequently, anger breeds resentment and a desire for revenge, and a cycle of reprisals and counter-reprisals can tear a community apart unless the community can blame a scapegoat for escalating hostilities.

Mimetic desires lead to communal strife, and this generates a strong desire to scapegoat. As we recall, people generally fail to recognize their participation in scapegoating violence. They have repeatedly seen their violence as just and righteous. Why? The reason is that, if the scapegoating mechanism were revealed, it would demonstrate the victimís innocence. If a community knew that the victim was innocent, they could not convince themselves that the scapegoat was responsible for their growing hostilities. The banishment or murder of the scapegoat would no longer unite the community.

As we will see, Christís teachings, life, and death revealed the scapegoating mechanism. Since the Resurrection, it has been harder for scapegoating to restore communal peace, because people have more readily recognized the relative innocence of the victim. In other words, they have realized that the victim is not fully responsible for communal strife. This has contributed to the rise of humanism, which has discouraged scapegoating people. In a desperate search for scapegoats, today animals have largely replaced people.

The next essay will show how the principles of the scapegoating mechanism are the same, regardless of whether the victims are people or animals.

Go on to: Part 28: Animals as Scapegoats, part 1
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