TrueHeartWork | Beds are Burning
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Beds are Burning

Beds are Burning

sad_manThe Fallen Hero is a tragic motif that reappears in myth and fairy tale. It’s a tale as old as time. Yet, for me, what is unfolding as the trial of Oscar Pistorius painfully progresses amidst a cacophony of speculation and the dull drone of gossip is an ancient pattern that has existed for eons in human consciousness. It is the story of the Scape Goat.

Leviticus 16.22 says The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness…

Historically, it was the  reviled and exiled goat that was the sin bearer. The goat that carried away the matted filth of the tribe. The goat that either was cast out into the wilderness, or ritually slaughtered. Its blood cleansed our sins. Its unclean remains were burnt outside the boundaries of the community.  In other tribal traditions it was a human being who performed this sacred ritual of sacrifice and collective atonement.

The Hebrew term for scapegoat is translated into English as meaning roughly for absolute removal.”images9QTHCACG

Jews, blacks, Aborigines, women, homosexuals have been scapegoated for centuries. Those who appear to be weaker, different or who threaten the status of the community, set apart from the tribe. Sporting heroes, politicians or celebrities who fly too high and singe their wings are scapegoated in modern times. Scapegoats are tormented in our neighbourhoods, schools, universities, and in offices where people are singled out for bullying and harassment.

In the old eye for an eye paradigm, where power is externalised, “you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” to quote Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight. Often the scapegoat begins to scapegoat others to purge the pain and rage of powerlessness.

There is something paradoxical about this once shining beautiful youth who carried the hopes of his countrymen so high on his young shoulders. Oscar Pistorius to me is the “maimed” scapegoat, like Oedipus with his deformed feet, or Hephaistos who was born deformed, he is living in a  society where there has been history of scapegoating. Where there is a scapegoat there is often a feeling of collective powerlessness and great will to power or great rage perhaps deeply buried.

According to a bbc report, a neighbour of Oscar Pistorius found the South African Paralympic star praying over the body of Reeva Steenkamp as she lay dying. Recalling the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013, Dr Stipp said he had heard gunshots and after making sure it was safe, went to help. When he got to Mr Pistorius house, he found the athlete kneeling by Ms Steenkamp, with his left hand on her right groin, and his right hand – the second and third fingers – in her mouth. There is something symbolic in this ritualistic rite perceived through mythic eyes. Self-loathing, victimisation, a compensation for the pain of being the impotent humiliated victim? Often the scapegoat begins to scapegoat others to purge the pain and rage of powerlessness. Sometimes the scapegoat is the healer-redeemer who believes that if they can save others, they will redeem, rescue the scapegoated part of themselves.

Victim and persecutor live in the same magnetic field and like metal filings attach themselves into the shape of an archetypal pattern. Our own feelings of being scapegoated are projected out onto others. We notice the outer “reality” though the magnet is hidden.eclipse-5exposures

In this haunting hall of mirrors, we all must confront something dark and hidden and ominously destructive that is externalised as “the enemy out there” and carry the shadow of the collective.

The trial presents an archetypal tableau with all the elements of a Greek Tragedy. The Cast of Characters themselves carry the pattern of Scapegoat. And perhaps we need to ask ourselves who is the Scapegoat in this courtroom ritual which will indelibly affect the lives of so many:  the young blonde victim, the black woman judge, the Afrikaans male athlete.  If we look more deeply we may see the magnet. Perhaps by our own vicarious engagement in the events that painfully unfold we will be brought to another level of compassionate understanding. If we can see through the “evidence” precided over by Judge Thokozile Masipa and glimpse the more subtle shades of a more layered composition.

There is no facile solution for this tale as old as time reminiscent of ghastly witch hunts and bloody genocide. We may be physically powerful, have enormous wealth, yet we shelter behind security fences and carry guns because we perceive power, like beauty and wealth, as being external. Murder, sanctioned in warfare, is outlawed in suburbia.

SAFRICA-TRIAL-PISTORIUSPerhaps Oscar Pistorius is not the freakish Minotaur  or victorious Blade Runner. Perhaps he is both Victim and Persecutor. Perhaps he is one of us. We will never know what activated the trip wire in the often stormy and competitive relationship (symbolised in their individual and composite chart astrology) between Oscar and Reeva. Was this the old story of Samson and Delia? Was Reeva the persecutor or the scapegoat? Or was it Oscar? How are we the persecutors?

Paranoia, frustration, fear of abandonment, critical words that land with barbs in our soft and tender spots…when we are triggered, each one of us will act out of the reptile brain without the logos or the temperance of the cerebral cortex. When we see ourselves as inherently powerless, the phallic potency of the gun is a lethal weapon against those we fear or wish to harm.  If there is a scapegoat there has to be a persecutor – the High Priest, the Judge, the Emperor. Someone we choose because they are identified with the collective values. So, to preserve the stability of our society we must suppress, exclude or destroy those things which threaten the stability and the status quo.

Freud spoke of the Superego. The Inner Judge who passes judgment on our transgressions and has a stern moral code. I imagine that collectively we have judged and found guilty, as we ourselves are guilty of thinking and speaking and acting in ways that have caused others suffering. As the evidence is presented in the trial, the scales of balance will be tipped and justice will be served according to the law of the land and her people. And in this fallen hero and the cast of characters that play on the stage of this tragic drama, we may see our own faces mirrored there darkly.capricorn mask

Midnight Oil – Beds are Burning

How can we dance when our earth is turning
How do we sleep while our beds are burning
How can we dance when our earth is turning
How do we sleep while our beds are burning

…The time has come …

 

 

Ingrid Hoffman

ingrid@trueheartwork.com
4 Comments
  • Beverley

    March 9, 2014 at 5:06 pm Reply

    A very powerful insight to this tragic drama!
    Bev

  • Dieter

    March 10, 2014 at 9:06 pm Reply

    Beautifully written

  • shelley street

    March 11, 2014 at 1:47 am Reply

    “the time has come”…a very powerful ending to your wonderfully insightful post this month Ingi, this sums it all up for me…we cannot run or hide, we have to face our “stuff”…and now is the time…this must mean big changes without and within for all of us globally…the tipping point??…exciting and rather frightening for me all at the same time.

  • shelley street

    March 11, 2014 at 1:47 am Reply

    “the time has come”…a very powerful ending to your wonderfully insightful post this month Ingi, this sums it all up for me…we cannot run or hide, we have to face our “stuff”…and now is the time…this must mean big changes without and within for all of us globally…the tipping point??…exciting and rather frightening for me all at the same time.

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