Contact Paris at [email protected] if you can to help. To find out about all upcoming leafleting and tabling opportunities in your area, join the CVA Calendar Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christian_vegetarian/
2. The March Peaceable Table Is Now Online
* If you have sometimes wanted to know more about the Quaker Animal Kinship Committee which sponsors the Peaceable Table, this month's Editorial, which is our present Position Statement, will help. It is headed by a banner showing our logo, a perky goat peering through a Q.
* Concern about overuse of antibiotics in factory farms has gone mainstream, according to one of the NewsNotes.
* One of the Reviews features actor Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Diet. In a light, sometimes amusing style, she encourages readers to face sober truths and to learn about the good they can do for their health, for animals, and for the planet by eating both compassionately and well.
* The Recipe section includes one for a savory miso soup that will warm and refresh you on a cold March day.
* The Pioneer, Leonie Van Gelder, is a fourth-generation vegetarian whose diet caused her some childhood problems. In retrospect, these situations are rather amusing.
As you read, do you have any comments that you would like to share? We welcome letters.
You can read this issue online at http://www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue63.html
Toward the Peaceable Kingdom,
3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Our sermon offering for today is:
4. Commentary: Answer to a Question on Scapegoating
One reader asks: It’s not clear to me as to why humans have been scapegoating since the beginning of time, since sooner or later people should discover that scapegoating inspired by a quest for self-esteem doesn’t work. In fact, some could argue that we are in worse shape when realizing the atrocities and the suffering we’ve caused throughout human history. Is this rooted in our genes?
People believe that punishing “evildoers” is both morally justified and socially efficacious, but by definition scapegoating involves inappropriate attribution of guilt onto victim(s). Many people are convinced that their “punishment” (which is actually scapegoating) is appropriate because, in the short term, it works. Initially, people do have their self-esteem elevated by transferring guilt onto victims. Further, collectively blaming victims for communal crises, particularly those that are driving people apart, can generate a sense of camaraderie that brings people together.
This reader is quite right that scapegoating doesn’t work in the long run. As long as people need elevated self-esteem to believe that they are worthy of God’s love, they will need scapegoats to assuage their guilt. Further, as long as people compete with each other in order to gain self-esteem, there will be rivalries that threaten to destroy communities and that can only be resolved by blaming scapegoats for conflicts. Therefore, scapegoating is a temporary “solution” to a chronic human problem. And, as this reader recognized, the tendency to blame and punish victims rather that confront the consequences of human desires tends to sow the seeds of self-destruction. Indeed, animal advocates see this all the time. People tend to denounce us for “caring more about animals than people,” and yet hardness of heart, when it comes to animals, results in harm to humanity, as my previous commentaries have stressed. Similarly, environmentalists, such as Al Gore, have been ridiculed while scientific evidence overwhelmingly points toward a growing environmental crisis.
I think the human tendency to scapegoat is rooted in human nature, which is related to our genetic makeup. However, our faith teaches that we can transcend destructive desires. This was a lesson from the recent Lectionary reading of the Three Temptation stories in Luke 4:1-13. Jesus, as a man, fully experienced human desires, yet Jesus rejected Satan’s temptations and kept his focus on God’s desires, not his own.
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
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