By Jonathan Sacks
June 30, 2022
Can We Reason Together - Part III
Chapter 15– The Return of Public Shaming
Welcome everyone to the United Methodist Men’s Book Study –
How did we do with last meeting’s challenge:
How can we erase Victimhood from those around us?
Recap from – Victimhood
Victimhood: The mental/emotional state of being a victim:
Society nurtures the label of victimhood.
Victimized: Being treated unfairly or made to feel as if he is in a bad position.
The adversity felt when treated poorly.
At some point in our lives we have each been victimized, by poor treatment, physically,
emotionally, or financially. We usually have a strong sense of being a victim, but we have a
critical choice to make…
DO WE WALLOW IN OUR VICTIMHOOD, OR DO WE RECOGNIZE IT, AND WORK TO CHANGE IT
OR OVERCOME IT?
Does our society today label people as Victims and winners…Road Kill or Champions?
There are real victims - They deserve our empathy, sympathy, compassion, care, and real
help… The difference is between being a victim and defining yourself as one.
This requires taking responsibility for your actions and reactions to adversity.
By choosing to become a moral agent, to put myself on a path to become what you want to be.
Our Responsibility as a Moral Christian:
“Do not stand idly be the blood of your neighbor”
“Learn to do what is right.”
“Relieve the oppressed.”
“Plead for the Widow.”
Suffering is Universal, but Victimhood is optional. - Edith Egan
Chapter 15 - The return of Public Shaming
What is Public Shaming?
In early settler times, it involved putting an ‘offender’ in a stock in the middle of the village, and
denying them food and water.
In today’s technological society, it often involves a ‘post’ to instagram, twitter (favorite of
politicians) calling someone a name, or calling out past actions in public.
The result is the same, there is a public rush to judgement based on the accusations, not
necessarily on the evidence.
Why does this “feel like we are tiptoeing around an unpredictable angry, unbalanced children who might
strike out at any moment.”
The Good part:
Media for disclosure: Harvey Weinstein, abuse in the catholic church, boy scouts anyone? It
provided a voice to the oppressed and previously silenced and disregarded -Victims.
That Bad part:
Most of the rest…Public mud throwing at best. Vigilante justice without due process, and an
immoral desire for “Revenge”. And we know what God says about seeking revenge.
In each of our long forgotten past, we may have some action, or words that perhaps taken out of
context could today be considered “BAD”.
Would any of us survive such a public attack, where the accusations are taken for truth, where
the accuser is ascribed as "The Victim". While later evidence may disprove the alleged incident,
the public shaming had likely done its damage.
In early society, we lived in tribes or villages. The logic of tribal conflict is when a member of
one group wrongs the other, that assault on honor must be avenged.
We all know about the Hatfields and the McCoys, and stories of the long running and
The Bible seeks to put an end to Revenge Culture.
Biblical judgement is impersonal, based on rules (laws) that are to be applied equally and
impartially to all.
Guilt Culture Vs Shaming Culture:
Guilt Culture conceives of Morality as a “Voice Within”, that tells us if we have done wrong.
Shaming Culture conceives at morality as an “External Demand”, or what other people expect of us.
This was a driving difference in American/Christian culture (Guilt) and Agnostic Culture
Marks the difference between the Sin and the Sinner.
Guilt can be relieved by remorse, confession, restitution and the promise to sin no more.
It makes sense to confess your sins, and ask forgiveness, and promise to improve.
Shame is a stain that can never be fully removed.
There is no forgiveness.
Accepts appeasement for a public show to “ make it up”.
There is no advantage to confess, but work by all means possible to “Cover It Up”.
Deny and hide the transgression. (Favorite of Politicians)
The “Original Sin”
We’ve all read the story of the Original Sin, and the resulting shame by Adam and Eve of
being naked before God.
Judaism and Christianity believes in an invisible God, who created the world with words,
and is to be based on a moral life, not based on public opinion, appearance, honor or
1 Samuel 16:7
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord
looks at the heart.”
This points to the importance of ‘listening’ to the inner voice, conscience or the Holy
Spirit, of forgiveness rather than appeasement, of integrity of the individual.
As we seem to be returning to public shaming, we throw away the revolutionary shift that God
provided for us to ensure that justice is done.
How can we look at the heart, as God would have us to do?
Next Week – Part 3, Chapter 16 - The Death of Civility