The Messiah

The appeal of the Messiah: a solution to humanity’s collective action problem. The Messiah redeems our world history of sin so we don’t have to. There are many of us who are not ignorant of injustice but choose to ignore it most of the time so that we may go on with our lives. If we didn’t, we would have to devote ourselves completely to fighting for justice rather than just voting for the right electoral candidate periodically, and even then we would likely see only marginal improvements because each of us is only one person and the injustice of the world is epic in scale. Fortunately for our sanity, and unfortunately for the victims of injustice, we can place all our concern and righteousness in a Messiah figure, such as a religious redeemer or a political candidate. The redemptive hero need not even be a person; it can be technologism or any expectation of progress serving to excuse ourselves from the responsibility for working together now to bring about justice. But the best Messiah figure is one who suffers personally, because we know deep down that a price must be paid for our sins – and we want above all not to be the ones who pay.

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