A Culture of Co-Suffering in an Age of Violence (Part One)
Bailie uses the work of French philosopher Rene Girard to suggest that the increasing violence of today’s world is the result of a breakdown between “sacred” and “profane” forms of violence, a breakdown that began with the coming of Christ, His death and resurrection.
Bailie’s argument is complex, but it goes something as follows. Society has always struggled with destructive violence. Before Christianity, societies dealt with this violence by turning their violent impulses on a scapegoat—a person or a marginalized group with obvious differences from themselves.
By elevating violence against the scapegoat to the level of religious mythology, societies were able to use “good” violence against the scapegoat to unite their peoples and bring an end to the “bad” violence that threatened to tear them apart. As long as everyone within that society continued to believe the mythology, they would remain united in their common enmity against the scapegoat, as opposed to being torn apart by internal conflicts.