One of the remarkable things about the American spirit is that even after two world wars, Vietnam, the 1970s, global terrorism, and three Transformers movies, optimism and progressive ideologies still shape our basic outlook on human nature. Faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity is still our basic credo—with enough time, money, energy, and education, the future is bright. For this reason we are, for the most part, utterly incapable of coping with the reality of human evil. Unless we're stuck in some dark, hipster cynicism about life, most Americans upon reading this will scramble to find an explanation—and by "explanation," I mean a way of explaining it away.Read the rest.
When faced with evidence to the contrary, we try to tell ourselves: "But, people are basically good. It's just those German Nazis and their particularly evil ways. That culture at that time and that place was just particularly messed up. It was the work of some particularly wicked people and some people just got carried along through fear."
Except that based on this new research, it wasn't just the soldiers following orders, or the masterminds, but the everyday people: husbands and wives; hardworking fathers and mothers providing for their kids; good neighbors; decent, regular folk.
And honestly, shouldn't our own recent history have disabused us of this naïve faith?
Tuesday, March 12, 2013