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Scapegoating – in a good way

גמר חתימה טובה

Scapegoating has a bad rep in our day and age because it usually involves falsely blaming someone else for one’s own shortcomings. Also it is done in hiding or maybe even unconsciously. Today, the Jewish tradition celebrates Yom Kippur. This holiday is based on Leviticus 16 and formalizes that process and places it in the community in the form of a public event. Letting go of guilt together is a good and healthy thing. Here is what happens to the literal and original scapegoat:

When he has finished atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.
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Where are you in your 9/11 grief?

North face south tower after plane strike 9-11

I invite you to look at your 9/11 remembrance from a grief perspective. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defined five stages of grief and here is how they apply to our communal response to the 2001 terror attacks:

  • Denial
    That moment you sat in front of the TV and couldn’t believe your own eyes. The following weeks and months when planes were grounded and everything felt surreal.
  • Anger
    The phase of externalization. Now the energy goes outward and focuses on “them”: Terrorists, countries that harbor terrorists, but also people who look and believe differently from me. This is how to start a war.
  • Depression
    Protracted war slows down and leads to frustration: How do you even begin to define victory in a seemingly endless war on terror? Does anything make a difference anymore?
  • Acceptance
    Fully embracing the factual reality what happened while being able to acknowledge your feelings that go along with it. You are in charge of your reaction: You no longer need to run away from the fear through denial. You no longer need to project it on innocent bystanders. You find a new meaning and a new purpose.
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Daniel Haas on Hospice Chaplaincy and Military Ministry

The Hospice Chaplaincy Podcast is committed to promoting excellence in spiritual care at the end of life. That’s why they had me back to talk about the We Honor Veterans Program. Listen here: