Saturday, February 1, 2014

Be This Guy.

Nazi Germany, and the horrors it perpetrated, are decades behind us. Far enough behind us that the insanity which griped a nation and caused normal men and women to act as unthinking, vicious animals in the pursuit of "the good", can be safely blamed on just one man. Hitler.

Isn't that convenient? An entire nation went nuts, and now we blame only one man. One man responsible for all of it. One man to revile. One man.

We are safe from our own evil as long as we have that one man.

But perhaps there is some truth in the power of one man. When that one man is doing the right thing.

In Nazi Germany, one man refused to become a part of the insanity. This picture immortalizes his quiet defiance.

Be this guy.

It must have taken great courage to be that guy. To question what everyone else was so very, very eager to embrace. To look with clarity at the empty promises being made, the fellow citizens being demonized, the accusations and the threats coming from the pulpit of power.

Be this guy.

We all would like to think we would have been that guy. But studies on evil, and how it tightens its lethal grip on a people, show that we are -- before we are anything else -- a group animal, and our willingness to conform is in our DNA. Before we are moral, we are part of the group.  Studies show 90% of us are unable to resist the need to comply.  90% of us would be raising our arms. 90%.

That leaves only 10% to be this guy.

But the same studies show that when there was just one guy who "was this guy" it gave courage to those who would have gone along. It changed the dynamics of obedience to power, it broke the group back into individuals.

This guy reminds us that morality is never found in the group.

It is always found -- first -- in the individual.

Be this guy.



  1. Ted Cruz is pretty impressive, I hope he stays that way. Don't know the blonde but Schumer, McCain, and Graham, well let's just say he's in pretty low company there.

    The Milgram experiments weren't all they were cracked up to be, so there's a little more hope than they implied.

  2. That was very interesting. But, to my mind, her findings that people resisted, doesn't change the fact that MOST (in some cases 90%) did not act on their resistance. They still did it. What that tells me is that people are STILL capable of great evil, just that some of them feel guilty about it.

    Unless Milgram actually fudged his numbers, the experiment still says something truly damning about human nature. The power of the mob shows it to us as truth over and over. Lord of the Flies illustrated it with the power of the story. The urge to gain power, to exercise it, to conform or be compliant to the dictates of power, self-advancement, all are traits that are basic to us as humans. Morality, acting as the individual, is not. We were tribal before we were anything else.

    And for the ones who suspected that the experiment was a hoax, THEY should have been even more willing to say, "Fuck this." and walk out because if what they were doing WAS a hoax (shocking the subject), then the authority figure in the experiment is a hoax, too.

    I guess I am cynical about humans because I have always been "that guy." And I know how lonely it can be to be the one who stands up and walks out when everyone else is clapping or saluting or whatever. I have been the one who called bullshit and made everyone mad at me. My experience is that fully 90% of people participate easily in all levels of crap or evil or nonsense, as long as they feel it is in they self-interest...and they can ignore mega-tons of bullshit.

    1. I haven't read the book, so I don't know if he fudged the numbers but I wouldn't be surprised. I used to be more trusting towards scientists, thinking that they might be mistaken but that they were honestly searching for the truth and reporting what they discovered. I'm much more skeptical now thanks to leftists using their credentials to manipulate people.

      History does demonstrate that plenty of people will go along with evil even if they don't actively participate. They just may not be quite so blindly obedient and unquestioning as Milgram made it appear.

      I have "that guy" tendencies I guess. On the plus side I don't get invited to many meetings.

    2. It may well be the case that Milgram "enhanced" the experiment's outcome by scrubbing some of the opposition mounted by subjects. Makes perfect sense. Scientists, like all the rest of us, are prone to see what we want to see and dismiss what doesn't match up to what we're looking for. But I still think it shows something significant about us...and not in a good way.