Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country. (Bertrand Russell)
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. (Voltaire)
"- There is a war now against Napoleon. If it were a war for freedom I could understand it and should be the first to enter the army; but to help England and Austria against the greatest man in the world is not right.
- If no one fought except on his own conviction, there would be no wars
- And that would be splendid
- Very likely it would be splendid, but it will never come about.." (Leo Tolstoy, "War and Peace")
21st century. Wars and armed conflicts still going on, no end in sight. The science, the technology have seen great progress, human nature...not so much.
Seems like the overwheling majority of people still feel comfortable doing bad things as long those are not their own initiatives but ordered by the authority.
The Milgram experiment results still valid.
One of the latest events that got me thinking about this was the Saudi and UAE troops intervention in Bahrain. Guys came to help save ruling dictators' arses. How nice. Smiling, waving hands from their military vehicles as if they were coming with flowers and chocolate, not with machine guns. Another bunch of 'good people' who came to 'help out'.
We're all amazed how Nazism was able to flourish, how average people, otherwise quite nice and kind, were working in concentration camps. Yet, we fail to see how similar things continue happenning, meaning overall normal persons taking part in immoral and inhumane operations.
The problem is - they don't feel responsible. 'I had an order', 'I was told to' - these excuses magically absolve most executives from any consequences of their actions. As if they were robots, not supposedly intelligent, free human beings. As if they were dogs trained to sit, bark or jump by command. Dogs indeed do not have the capacity to make moral choices. Human beings, though, do. And if someone wants to be considered a human being and have human rights, that individual should also acknowledge the responsibilities humans have.
So when you take a gun and aim at another person, when you fly a jet with a bomb to be dropped over the city, don't be fooling yourself that you're just following an order. When you press the trigger, when you drop the bomb - it's your hand that makes this particular evil possible.
This is how it has always been. Evil rulers can never cause great sufferring on their own. Average people who choose to serve and obey them make those vicious plas come true. Without a big army of soldiers no war could ever take place. Average people like you and me - we are responsible for the world around us. Whether its just and pleasant, or cruel and unfair.
The question I keep asking myself is 'could the vicious circle ever be broken'? The circle being the situation where parents are unable to teach their kids true responsibility and non-conformity being conformists themselves. Most people trust public schools to bring up their kids. Obviously, we get a population of brainwashed executives of authority's orders. To break the circle we need a new model of bringing up kids. The one that'd promote independent critical thinking, listening to one's heart and following it, creativity. But then, where do we get enough people posessing such qualities? You're lucky if you are able to find 1 person per school, and that's not nearly enough...
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