1. a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.

Originally the word scapegoat came from the Bible. It was when a goat was sent into the forest symbolically carrying the sins of the Jewish people, but for modern usage, the word scapegoat adheres to the definition above.

He is pretty cute, huh?

I was recently blamed publically for intentionally hurting a female relative and ruining their vacation event, and to top it off I was accused of strategically conspiring with another relative to intentionally hurt this person and causing hurt to other people in the process. Wow.  Was I the scapegoat?

I immediately contacted the accuser to ask what the facts were. The accusations did not have much merit upon further investigation. 

During the past several weeks I had not talked to the alleged co-conspirator nor was I was not privy to the communications she had with the alleged victim(s). She lived in another state and was on a cruise in Mexico with her family of 5. I did not know what ship she was on, what ports they were going to, or where she was on what dates. I was on a road trip with my family of 3 in Southern Nevada and Arizona. I had not spoken on the phone to my alleged co-conspirator for at least a month.  There was not a lot of plotting to go on between me being in Nevada and her on a ship in the ocean somewhere. 

There was zero plotting and scheming going on as far I  was concerned. After stating my case, the accuser decided to change his tune and retracted his statement. However, the damage was done.  

What we can learn from incidents like this can be applied to not only our personal life but our professional life as well? 

Below are some tips that can be used both professionally and personally as well.

  • Never accuse someone of something until you talk to all parties involved and gather information first. 
  • Never accuse others of plotting together to harm a "victim" without gathering evidence. Do you have facts that lead you to believe this is a group effort? Gather evidence to back up this claim. 
  • Is there even a valid accusation or is someone just passing the blame? Ask all parties involved what is going on or what their intention was? 
  • Review the alleged victims' accusations in detail. Did they do something to cause the complaint? Do the accused have something personal or financial to gain? Speak to all parties involved to form an unbiased conclusion based on facts.  
  • Ask yourself if this is just your opinion? Consider talking to an unbiased person about the situation to get their viewpoint. 
  • When you are ready to file a complaint, do it one on one, not in public view. Remember everyone has a right to state their case in privacy. 
  • Avoid using blanket statements, such as telling the accused they ruined an entire event due to their one action. Is it valid to place that much responsibility on one person for the outcome of a week-long event that they did not even attend? 

In a professional setting, for example, if you feel that an employee is stealing from the company, call them aside for a private meeting to express your concerns. Do not send out a mass email to all the employees in the office accusing them of stealing. Gather facts before making an accusation. 

Does the situation call for a scapegoat? Unlikely.

Families and professional relationships are not always black and white. There is not always a victim, often if you dig a little deeper you will see that all roads lead back to poor choices made by one party, often the "victim" who doesn't take responsibility for the outcome of their own personal choices. 

I am not a scapegoat for others and refuse to carry the blame for the fallout of others' poor choices.  I accept the outcome of my choices and the only blame I will own is the fallout if I made a poor choice on my own. 

Let's leave the scapegoats in the Bible where they belong.


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