If there’s one thing that I’ll never regret, is being the quiet kid in class. There’s something funny about being in that position wherever you go. There are perks. Especially in the norms of Asian culture where speech is silver and silence is golden. Somehow people respect you more, seniors are intimidated by you, and most important of all, people think you’re pious. That last part is more of a nuisance if not helpful in anyway. Having done something bad is a lot worse. Much like a junior of mine; sweet, cheerful and quiet boy, brought to the principal’s office for the rude and sexual gestures he made to his female classmate. It was difficult to feel any empathy for the guy. But the wise words of Atticus Finch in the masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird suggests otherwise;
”You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Yes it is a bad thing to show inappropriate gestures, and disciplinary measures must be taken, but it is crucial to understand this; he is not a bad apple. He’s not a delinquent. Take this on a bigger scope, and it’s the case with Edi Rejang and the liquor store. Although the actual video was full of racist remarks and inappropriate slurs, it’s the same thing. He received his ample punishment, and also the rage of the netizens. But most of all, he is not an evil man. Take this on a bigger scope and you’ll get the Abu Ghraib incident back in 2003. Eleven soldiers of The United States Army abuse, rape, torture, sodomy and even murder the prisoners of the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. But they weren’t rebels nor excommunicated soldiers. They are like any other normal soldiers. The Rwanda genocide back in 1994 was seen as the most massive genocide incident causing an estimated of a million deaths in only a hundred days. The Tutsi were slaughtered not by soldiers, but by their own neighbours and friends. Good people who share their food and play with their kids. Good people whom the Tutsi trust.
These people are not inherently evil. These are good people. Good people in situations that requires them a change of moral due to the conflict of individual’s disposition, situation and the systems of power.
The Lucifer Effect
Numerous psychologists, thinkers, philosophers have debated over the internal and external factors in the behaviour of a person. But never took the system as the factor. There’s the apple, the barrel, and the barrel maker. Usually when someone did something bad, it’s a question “who”? Who did it, and who’s responsible. And never took the barrel or more precisely who made the barrel into considerations. Dr Philip Zimbardo suggests that when the system shapes the surrounding, the surrounding may have an influence on the individuals. It is the power that is given to these individuals that started the evil deeds. Power as in having the ability to influence others. And as it is, when one dehumanize others with that power, that’s when good people are capable of bad things.
Take the kid right at the start. The masculinity and safe haven of being in the majority group of the class triggered into dehumanizing his classmates, and to exert power. The infamous racist at the liquor store presume the power of the indigenous group of the country. The Abu Ghraib soldiers held the authority for the prisoners. The Hutu assume superiority over the Tutsi.