A Pandemic of Blame
By Dennis Klocek
A pandemic can be characterized technically as a cascade. One event triggers two events and they in turn trigger four and so on to create a cascade. In biology the cascade effect is a fundamental life strategy for many opportunistic organisms like viruses.
However, social scientists point out that the lingering effects of a cascading pandemic are not only the suffering and death of the victims who succumb to the disease. The cascading economic effects of the loss of normal commerce are certainly to be counted among the miseries of widespread loss of livelihood of the survivors. But these results pale in relation to the dire social unrest when the search for who to blame for the crisis becomes a cascading obsession in the population. This pattern has already started in the US among the politicians but in other countries where government has managed to contain the spread of the virus, the scapegoating of person against person is the source of an emotional cascade that creates a pandemic of blame that continues long after the disease has run its course.
The issue of who is to blame is an ancient one in the soul lives of human beings. In the Bible early in Genesis the Book of Job depicts the issue of blame both human and Divine in the face of terrible human trials.
Job is a prosperous and industrious and benevolent man. He has many sons and daughters and large land holdings and is a just and God fearing individual. However, Job secretly suspects without evidence that his sons and daughters are not as God fearing as he is. He suspects that they are not as morally upright as he is and offers sacrifices to God to atone for their alleged misbehaviors. Then on one day a cascade of events leads him to the loss of his cattle, then his land holdings and finally a wind that knocks down the house of his sons and daughters killing them all. Job goes into mourning and as a final element in the cascade of misery he himself is stricken with painful boils all over his body.
At each loss, Job asserts his faith in a higher power. He asserts that there must be a Divine reason for these calamities. He searches his soul for who to blame since he, in his sacrifices to the Lord was just trying to keep his faith in the wisdom of higher powers. Eventually his suffering is at a maximum and his wife councils him to just get it over with, curse God and die. Once again, he answers his wife by asserting his innocence, and steadfastly refuses to blame either himself or God for the calamities.
The patience of Job is found in not moving to blame. But then that resolve is tested when three of his friends arrive to help him sort out these events. Each friend in turn questions Job’s claim of innocence by telling him that God would never visit such suffering on a human so there must be something that he did that was so vile that God needs to correct him with these sufferings. In each case Job argues against both his blame and the blame of the Divine world and leaves the issue of blame open to the question of what is the purpose of suffering. The arguments with his friends go back and forth for many pages as Job tries to make sense out of suffering without placing blame. The arguments eventually reach a point where Job essentially tells his friends that, with friends like them he has no need of enemies. The issue driving these events is that Job’s friends have accused Job of cursing or blaming God for his misfortunes. Job emphatically denies this and at his greatest point of frustration Job addresses God directly by wishing that God would show up so that Job could plead his case face to face.
God shows up in a whirlwind along with the monsters, leviathan and behemoth. Symbolically the leviathan, a serpent from the depths of the sea, can be imagined as a manifestation of the God given forces of life in the human body. What Rudolf Steiner would call the etheric forces. God asks Job if he could command these life forces. Job answers that he knows that God is in control of the life force but again asserts his innocence from the charge of cursing or blaming God, being leveled at Job by his friends. Then God introduces the behemoth who can destroy whole forests with just a swish of his tail. God asks Job if he is in control of this destructive force. The behemoth can be seen symbolically as the soul force in the human being that has introduced technologies as alternatives to the natural order through the desire to control nature. Job admits that he is not in control of behemoth but again asserts that he is innocent of the charge of cursing or blaming God. But he also acknowledges that since God has come to him and revealed these things to him he has been able to see God in a new light. He acknowledges his new ability to see the creation more clearly through his suffering.
At this assertion, God turns against Job’s friends and asks them why they are blaming His faithful servant. God asserts that Job’s integrity against casting blame has turned his suffering into insight. He tells Job’s friends that they must emulate Job in is righteousness and make reparations to Job. God then restores Job’s land, animals and sons and daughters and Job is once again prosperous. However he has learned a new level of understanding that blaming is the true root of human suffering. The lessons of Job can take on a new meaning for us when the inevitable cascade of blaming of others follows in the wake of the current anxiety surrounding the biological cascades of a pandemic. The biological cascade is but a seed of the emotional cascade that will surely follow if we can believe this most ancient of stories about blaming others.
Dennis Klocek, MFA, is co-founder of the Coros Institute and a faculty member at Rudolf Steiner College. He is the author of nine books, including the newly released Colors of the Soul; Esoteric Physiology and also Sacred Agriculture: The Alchemy of Biodynamics. Dennis is also an international lecturer.