Monday, August 11, 2008
When I wrote my blog on “the devil in our mind” two weeks ago, I was impressed by my recent experiences in Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Auschwitz and I wondered how people come that far that they do such cruel acts. The actual problem is not, I think, that there are people that deliberately are prepared to kill people. I mean, that is a problem, of course, but the real problem is that, although most men do not want to kill, they are prepared to do it if a “person with authority” demands it, as Stanley Milgram has shown in his famous study Obedience to Authority. Some people think “If that person tells me that I can do it, it must be okay”. In other cases, people know that what they do is not good, but they are in such a situation that they do not see a real possibility to avoid cruel or despised acts, unless they risk their lives. What I think is that if we have come that far, that people are in such a situation, something has gone wrong already long ago, and that the phase that violence can be prevented has already past. There are many reasons why it can come so far, but one reason is that preventive measures are often considered “soft”, which is the same as “not realistic”. War and violence are presented on the first pages of newspapers and stressed in the TV news and everybody knows about it, but who knows for example about the preventive actions of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (www.osce.org)? Things that do not happen are not seen as news. However often this news is more important than the news of what did happen.