Friday, May 22, 2015

Need to Purify our Motives

In a bulletin for priests, the writer wonders if society is headed for serious confusion. People are condemning with 'swords', under the banner of justice, and enjoying it. The writer has an eerie feeling towards what is happening. Even though those who have been singled out for the 'sword' for their wrong doing and immorality, they are wielded cruelly.

He doesn't feel that the  condemnation is for the betterment of society but rather like the hunter who has hit his prey with the arrow, those  on the sidelines seeing the blood yell: kill, kill.  Externally it seems there is an interest in justice, but he can't help but feel that the interest is more in the cruelty of the violence. 

Years ago, an experiment in which a person who had a slight justification to throw a stone, when he does,  becomes sadistic. The Stanford Prison Experiment  prepared by the psychologist Zimbardo  who selected 24 student from middle class backgrounds to roll play prisoner and guard in a mock prison, showed this to be the case.

The aim of the  experiment was to  see how readily people would conform to the roles of guard and prisoner in a role-playing exercise that simulated prison life. Surprisingly, the  experiment had to be discontinued after just a week for the guards began to act sadistically towards the  prisoners. 

Zimbardo determined from his experiment that no matter how kind a person may be when the enviroment is evil and one is given the right to punish, this  easily turns into cruelty. In the beginning it may start off as a joke but the students when they were given authority, internally the latent power, desire to control, and gratuitous attacking appeared.                                                                                            

When we condemn someone, the same dynamics are experienced. In this case the one who is punishing the condemned, feels a sense of superiority and a feeling of pleasure in that he is realizing justice, which can increase the degree of condemnation.  What is even worse is the righteous anger with which we are filled,   sees others who are not concerned as escapists, small minded, and cowards. There are many in society who see the corrupt as sinking the society as the Sewol sank, and are speaking out. 

This kind of thinking is very natural to us. We have to be careful with these feelings. Do the stones we are throwing  really have something  to do with justice or a way to  resolve our own violence? We need to examine ourselves  to determine if these  words of condemnation are for the sake of society or coming  from our brutal nature. If not we are like the Khmer Rouge who killed  the innocent without any sense of  guilt.