As we open the newspapers, it is filled with stories/news items consisting of some sort of violence. Terrorist activities are happening at many parts of the world. Religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, atrocities against vulnerable, rape are extremely common. I happened to read about ‘Banality of evil’ by one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century Hannah Arendt. I quote a section from an article on her,
In 1961, The New Yorker commissioned Arendt to cover the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi SS officer who helped to orchestrate the Holocaust. How could anyone, she wanted to know, perpetrate such evil? Surely only a wicked sociopath could participate in the Shoah. But Arendt was surprised by Eichmann’s lack of imagination, his consummate conventionality. She argued that while Eichmann’s actions were evil, Eichmann himself – the person – ‘was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous. There was no sign in him of firm ideological convictions.’ She attributed his immorality – his capacity, even his eagerness, to commit crimes – to his ‘thoughtlessness’. It was his inability to stop and think that permitted Eichmann to participate in mass murder.
I occasionally wonder, are we learning to show such characteristics? We might not have done extreme cruelties like Eichmann, but inhuman and immoral activities are increasing. The worst ones as I see are
- People involved in terrorist activities (they are believed to be brain-washed)
- People involved in lynching of fellow countrymen in the basis/alleged basis of cow slaughter
- People involved in religious fundamentalism, inflicting pain and suffering on fellow and other religious people
- People involved in the economic atrocities against the poor
- People involved in land grabbing in the name of development.
- People involved in the atrocities against women, dalits or any vulnerable groups.
- People involved in stealing the coins of the poor so that their big notes are saved/invested safely
How can evil become so banal (unoriginal or extremely ordinary). We have the great Indian tradition which respects tolerance. And we have a group of Indian citizens who are thoughtless. They just continue their atrocities without any guilt or pain.
Our schools should include thinking as a skill or probably the most important skill. (The top minority won’t like that to happen, but want thinking to be reserved for them). Teachers, Parents, writers, artists have a big role to play; Do this esteemed duty of yours for the bright future of our country.
(I am doing my masters in philosophy. I occasionally forward the fake messages without even thinking about it. What a pitiable condition)
We are a free country. Let each individual become free. Let he/she think for oneself. Let us not blindly follow anybody. Nothing is so sacrosanct. Humanity and Humaneness are the precious gifts of humanity. Let us not forgo it by our inability to think for ourselves