“The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.”

— DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

Communities often find themselves faced with horrible tragedies they can’t understand.

This is the case recently with the death of a child in Fairfield (Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal, July 11) and the accusations and charges that followed (Sept. 20).

Faced with a situation that seems to have no explanation, people conduct often-frenzied searches to identify and highlight the differences between the evil of the guilty person and good of their own lives and values.

Unfortunately, the scapegoating that can follow such a tragedy does not heal the grief and anguish that individuals and the community rightfully feel at such times.

Reading through the online comments that follow news articles about this tragedy, it is easy to interpret parts of the string as an attempt to find someone to blame, to dehumanize and marginalize them.

With fictional user names, these anonymous comments can become the modern equivalent of a masked mob — voices gathering in the night with torches and pitchforks, looking to punish anyone on whom they can focus the sins of the day.

To blame without fully understanding a circumstance is unkind and unhelpful. Human behavior is complicated. Simple pronouncements of either blame or blamelessness do not serve the truth.

Our courts and governmental agencies are empowered to sort through the complexities of these situations and to do their best to come to a resolution that preserves the order and values of our culture.

They do this for us, as our representatives. The rest of us should wait patiently for the resolution, even as we grieve.

We should resist the comfort of enraged blame. It doesn’t offer the same comfort as being able to close the book on the situation, but it will let us be a beacon of fairness, truth and justice in a world that already is too full of dehumanizing hatred.

Dr. Karen Mosher, Ph.D., is the clinical director of Kennebec Behavioral Health.

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