Monday, 9 March 2009

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.

(6) Uncritical Conformity to Group Norms. - IGNORANT. AFRAID TO DO WHAT OTHERS CONSIDERED AS UNCONVENTIONAL OR NOT COURTEOUS.

(7) Passive tolerance of evil through Inaction, of indifferent.
WAIT AND SEE. DON’T RESPOND TO THE SITUATIONS UNTIL IT BECOMES CRITICAL. IT IS NOT URGENT TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS (ACTIVE). MAYBE IF WE DO NOTHING, IT WILL GO AWAY

(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!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Desire and Faith – 2 things we need to achieve great things in life (Part 2)

In part 1, I talked about how desires and faith get me my first job. Of course, desire and faith are not the only things we need to achieve what we want but it is rather a beginning of great achievements, where plans, opportunities or even the new shift of paradigm will come along.

So, in the next 2 years from the time I got my first job, I threw myself into work so much that I really could count with my fingers how often I went to cinema or shopping. There were a good stretch of periods where I went home after 12 midnight everyday during weekdays and worked full day on Saturday and Sunday. I enjoyed the overtime though because those were the times where the office was so peaceful and I could fully concentrate on what I was doing. Also, I learned more when I did more on my job. On top of that, I got paid allowance of roughly RM10 per hour (after 8 p.m. on weekdays, though) and additionally RM10 for travel allowance after 12 midnight. So, on the many nights I risked my safety and got back home at 12 plus midnight, I actually earned RM50 extra for that day! In fact, I was not really thinking about my safety at all. With my overtime allowance of RM1,000 exceeds in average each month, I managed to pay my college fees and all my living expenses without needing a single cent from my parents, though they helped me pay my car installment.

Two years later, I earned first class honours for my Degree. My final year project supervisor was amazed by the programs I demonstrated, a stock broking application, which 70 percent of the coding was actually taken from my job. I got some good increments and also year-end bonus. Bonus was good at that time too; best performers got 4 to 5 months of their salary. Ironically, it was my first and the last time I ever received bonus from any companies since. Anyway, it was a great plan, wasn’t it; to study and work at the same time? And, most of all, I earned my independence and both rewards and recognition for my hard work.

So, I still believe desires and faith are the beginnings of great things. Posting my story here actually help me remember and renew my desires and faith for things ahead of me. Things usually get more difficult and complicated the longer we are in a career or life. Perhaps, we are laden with too much worries and responsibilities. Or maybe, there have been so much grieves and pains we have gone through; that ALL make us forget to nurture our desires and faith, to see the Child in Us even though the world and things looks so gloomy sometimes.

And maybe these:

1. We should communicate our desire more and not fear whether people will make fun of us or our dreams.

2. We should think everything is possible to be achieved. We should not think negatively so that we can console ourselves when failed by saying somethings like “already know it is hard or impossible” and “most likely is going to fail anyway.”

3. We should convey our confidence in achieving what we want even if it seems impossible. We should not be afraid to have people call us liars or boastful, especially when we fail sometimes as there will be a lot of failures before we have success.

4. We should persist with our desire and faith when things fail because we know these are just temporary defeats but success is just an inch away.

5. We should also have more faith on other people, especially those who are knowledgeable, positive and more matured than we are; those who has helped us; and those who are kind and helpful to us or to other people.

The conclusion:
It is most important for us to always know and communicate about our desires and faith instead of our concerns, our worries, and our incapability. Yes, we can complain like a wife complain to her husband and vice versa, but we also need to convey a large dose of positiveness.
And definitely, we want to be associated with positive people, and get as far away as possible from negative people.