I already hear the murmur of people gathering for the annual burning of Zozobra here in Santa Fe. It’s a big celebration here, described in one of the tourist mags:
For 98 years, Santa Fe’s original burning man Zozobra, a 50-foot tall, storied marionette, has been built anew. And each year he is stuffed with thousands of paper “glooms”––love letters, divorce papers, photos, speeding tickets, bad habits, hurt feelings––to go up in smoke (and disappear from our lives) when this New Mexico icon goes down in a highly orchestrated, flaming fury as we cheer on from below.https://www.santafe.org/blog/post/zozobra/
When I first moved here in the mid 80’s, I knew nothing of Zozobra but lived only a few blocks away and followed the crowds to watch. It’s a very family friendly event – no drinking, good security, lots of dance performances and music before the burning starts. After the burning the groups drifted down to the Plaza where there was music and dancing. Great fun.
Over the years, there were changes. A shooting at the Plaza one year curtailed that part of the event. As Santa Fe got more popular there were more people at the event. Now about 60,000 are expected. But for me the biggest change was in me.
I now live only a couple of hills from the event and hear the festivities way into the night. As I said, now I hear the murmur of people gathering. Later there will be music and fireworks. And the screaming of Zozobra as he burns.
Hey wait a minute! Granted this is a huge puppet created to be burned. But we are cheering while listening to the screams of a creature however inanimate being tortured. This has stopped being fun for me.
The idea of a scapegoat is that it is “not me”, not one of us, different, expendable. In this case an inanimate puppet. Originally a goat staked to lure the predator. All too often outsiders are blamed for a group’s misfortune. Hitler used the Jews as the scapegoat for Germany’s ills. We’ve seen a number of genocides like this. Even the concept of Jesus dying for our sins is scapegoating. Witches were blamed for accidents and illness. Not just humans – black cats have been killed relentlessly as scapegoats for bad things happening. Enough!
I am no longer interested in blaming “Other” for my sins or misfortunes. My personal growth depends on me taking responsibility for my own part in what disturbs me.