The Lucifer Effect.
""Arendt’s phrase 'the banality of evil' continues to resonate because genocide has been unleashed around the world and torture and terrorism continue to be common features of our global landscape. We prefer to distance ourselves from such a fundamental truth, seeing the madness of evildoers and senseless violence of tyrants as dispositional characters within their personal makeup. Arendt’s analysis was the first to deny this orientation by observing the fluidity with which social forces can prompt normal people to perform horrific acts." (From Chapter 12, pages 288-289)
"Our usual take on evil focuses on the violent, destructive actions of perpetrators, but the failure to act can also be a form of evil, when helping, dissent, disobedience, or whistle-blowing are required. One of the most critical, least acknowledged contributors to evil goes beyond the protagonists of harm to the silent chorus who look but do not see, who hear but do not listen. Their silent presence at the scene of evil doings makes the hazy line between good and evil even fuzzier. We ask next: Why don’t people help? Why don’t people act when their aid is needed? Is their passivity a personal defect of callousness, of indifference? Alternatively, are there identifiable social dynamics once again at play?" (From Chapter 13, page 314)"
AS you can see I'm reading a disturbing book at the moment called the Lucifer Effect and it's by Philip Zimbardo, a very well known and well respected psychologist and professor
The Lucifer Effect is a book essentially about why good people do evil things, and Zimbardo himself is the man behind the Stanford Prison Experiment, a now-classic study he conducted in 1971. In that study, normal college students were randomly assigned to play the role of guard or inmate for two weeks in a simulated prison, yet the guards quickly became so brutal that the experiment had to be shut down after only six days.
Last night as I lay propped in bed I read about the genocide in Rwanda, the butchery and torture of thousands of Chinese at the hands of Japanese advance and finally I had no choice but to put the book down and try to sleep. I lay in the dark, listening to the not exactly gentle snore of the paramour, pondering, trying to make sense of what I had read.
I don't mind telling you I had nightmares and today I am very cranky and even after a disgusting breakfast of egg white omelette and coffee I am no less narked.
I am also deeply troubled. Zimbardo makes a very valid point in the book, that before mass murder, before war, before torture and violence is committed the warning signs are in place. Propaganda is racked up, warring factions are dehumanised. We see it all the time, all around us. Iraq-ragheads, sand niggers, Americans and European- are infidels and filth, women the world over are second class citizens, if they are vocal and who demand their rights they are feminazis, gay men are 'faggots and sinners', lesbians are dykes, Christians are backward bible thumping fairy believing morons, intolerance is rampant, and tolerance where it should not be is allowed.
It happened here in my own country, where for many a year 'the troubles' pitted neighbour against neighbour and the Bloody Sunday and the Omagh bomb where the apogees of sectarian hatred.
I read a fair smattering of blogs, some far right, some far left, most centric and the gulf between people is growing ever wider and more vocal. Lines are being drawn, even if they are faint. Something is rumbling.
Are we as a people becoming jaded by war and bloodshed around us? What's happening In Guantanamo Bay? Why haven't I wondered about this before? Why are soldiers in Iraq? There was no WMD found, so why the continued occupation? I'm not going down the stupid road of 'merika evil rest of world good' either, that's nonsense, but I would like to know what the thinking on this is. I would especially like my American readers to voice an opinion. What's the feeling? Will there be an Iranian war next? Is there a war between Islam and the west on the horizon? Between the right and the left?
Who do I believe, the media? Which media? Is everything black and white? Where should a person stand? Should I just carry on going about my daily business, eating, going out with friends and pretending there's nothing going on? According to Zimbardo that's just what folk do when evil thrives. The Germans did it while their fellow country men were slaughtered, but that idea makes me feel terrible. And besides, Ireland is not involved in anything, well except Shannon stop overs. What do you mean global wars are on my doorstep?
Am I part of the problem? Should I be doing something? What? What should a semi- intelligent 34 woman be doing anyway? Okay, I don't live in a vacuum, the world is there before me. So why the ennui? Why the 'tut tut' as I read the newspaper and then back to whatever I was doing before?
Bah, I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to think about anything. But I promise you this, last night as I lay in the dark I gave myself a firm kick up the backside. I need to read more, learn more, exist on this plane. I don't want to become part of a problem, even if I'm not a hundred percent sure what exactly that problem is yet.
Sorry for rambling, yours in confuddled thinking on a sunny sunny day, the dark clouds are my own.