you must remain silent


Rene Girard (1923-2015) explains the laying of blame on a particular person, who has through no choice of their own has become the scapegoat. It imagines individuals who disagree with each other, uniting together when a third person threatens their beliefs, behaviour and commitments. This person has a new identity forced upon them, blamed for the chaos, and who must remain silent.

Imagine a mother, caught in the middle of isolated issues within the home. Two of her children are doing as they please, not taking the responsibility they should. The father, is also doing his own thing and finds no motivation to address the behaviour of his children. When approached by his wife, he doesn’t see the problem, a minor argument breaks out but because the children want to carry on doing what they are and the father wants the same for himself. Though he would on another occasion address his children’s behaviour. This time he unites with his children, by not addressing them and so deflects their wrong doing and his own on to his wife, their mother, for she in their eyes is the cause of the current tense feeling in the home. Though she has done nothing wrong, she is identified by the others as the one who is causing all the disruption.

The mother, has had the sins of her family place on her, and she must remain silent, for to say anything would be to only affirm the identity that she has been given. When people who do not want to take responsibility, do not take responsibility for their own beliefs, behaviours and commitments. They will often look for a scapegoat and even unite with others they previously disagreed with, so as to defend their position and deflect attention away from their own wrong doing.

By Daniel Ralph

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