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How ordinary people become monsters ... or heroes

"The world is always filled with goods and evil."

There are many times as conveyed in many of my previous postings, I wonder at how good people can turn bad, how and why people condone evilness, how we sometimes struggle within ourselves to want to be good or bad when our life goes off-course, and whether to forgive people who did evil things to us.

It is always fascinating to me to explore the subject of goods and evil. My INFP personality describe me as the following:

An INFP describes the inner conflict as not good versus bad, but on a grand scale, Good vs. Evil. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars depicts this conflict in his struggle between the two sides of "The Force." Although the dark side must be reckoned with, the INFP believes that good ultimately triumphs.

Thus, when I recently stumbled across the talk by Philip Zimbardo in TED, the author of the book "Lucifer Effect - understanding how good people turn evil", I am very much excited to continue on the subject. Click on this link to watch the interesting talk.

Here are the summary of the talk:

1. When our most favourite angel, Lucifer turned into devil, it shows that ordinary people can transform into perpetrators of Evil.

2. Evil is the exercise of power to intentionally harm (psychologically), hurt (physically) , and/or Destroy (mortally) and commit crimes against humanity.

3. There are 8 social processes that grease the slippery slope of evil (there are a lot of similarities with the points I tried to make in my posting Human Crime Today, so I show it here side-by-side) :

(1) mindlessly taking the first smallstep.

(2) dehumanization of Others

(3) De-individuation of Self (anonymity)

(4) Diffucation of Personal Responsiblity. - DON’T THINK OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR ACTIONS.

(5) Blind Obedience to Authority - FOLLOW THE CROWD. FOLLOW THE AUTHORITY.


(7) Passive tolerance of evil through Inaction, of indifferent.

(8) In new or unfamiliar situations.

4. Give people power without oversight can cause evilness.

5. We should refocus away from Evil to understanding heroes- most heroes are everyday people, who emerge as heroes only in particular situations. - For e.g. Joe Darby , who stopped the Abu Ghraib abuses by exposing the photos to a senior officer. HE DID THE RIGHT THING WHEN OTHERS WERE DOING THE WRONG THING.

6. Situations have power to do 3 things:

(1) The very same situation that can inflame the hostile imagination , in those who become perpetrators, of evil can also inspire the
(2) Heroic imagination in others of us, or
(3) render most people passive bystanders and guilty of The Evil of Inaction. (they follow momma's advice: don't get inolved and mid your own business!
But momma humanity is my business.)

So, we can choose to be a Perpetrator of Evil, Guilty of inaction or Be a hero!.

7. We should encourage children to develop the heroic imagination and talents - Hero-in-Waiting.

8. You have to know how to be a deviant to be a hero. Act when other people are passive, be social-centric not ego-centric.

9. A true Hero said "I did what anyone could do, and waht everyone OUGHT to do".

I also learned from the Nuremberg Trials, why the Nazi leaders can commit evilness on such a grand scale to the Jewish under the influence of just one man - Adolf Hitler. There are 2 main reasons which I could not have agreed more. There are: 1) the lack of empathy for other people and 2) the culture to follow the authority without questioning.

Let's put on our halos and fight for the goodness in the world!


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