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The Problem Of Evil And Humanity

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According to Robert Sapolsky, a Stanford scientist, “human nature is extraordinarily malleable, and…that’s the most defining thing about our nature” (Illing). People are capable of inconsistent and unpredictable behavior making every person susceptible to unethical behavior (Sommers). Even moral individuals can be seduced to act immorally. Situational forces and group dynamics can make evil forces come out of the most virtuous individuals. The destructive force of evil will prevail over humanity.

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An environment of chaos is created when there are no authoritative figures. In Lord of the Flies, the young, civilized British boys are stranded on the island after the plane crash with no adults. Piggy and Ralph fiend for a parental figure on the island, but their wishes are never granted. Over time, the boys become more wicked. From killing pigs to killing humans, the boys are becoming more inclined to commit barbarous actions. There are multiple instances where the boys are violent toward each other. Roger displays his pleasure in murdering Piggy by allowing the moment of “delirious abandonment, he leaned all his weight on the lever…Piggy fell forty feet…Piggy was gone” (Golding 141). As well, Ralph is turned against at the end of the book. It seems that the characters who desire the authoritative figures are turned against by the savage boys of the group. Also, the Zimbardo experiment is an extraordinary example of chaos without authority. The men were split into groups: prisoner and prison guard. The hosts of the experiment told the prison guards that they have rule over the prisoners. Soon after, the prison guards began to humiliating the inmates. Their evil activity could be considered a violation of human rights. The acts of the prison guards closely shadowed the acts of the military in Abu Ghraib.

An authoritative figure, who is evil, can lead an individual to do harm. The Milgram Obedience experiment was carried out by Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, in 1963. In the Milgram Obedience experiment, the teacher was told to administer an electric shock to the student every time they got an answer wrong. They increased the voltage every time. Two-thirds of participants were prepared to administer a potentially fatal electric shock when encouraged to do so. In conclusion, the participants are likely to follow orders given by an authoritative figure, even to the extent of killing a human. In addition, Gypsy Rose’s mother, Dee Dee, had tortured Gypsy since she was young. Gypsy’s mother convinced the public — and doctors — that Gypsy had a series of medical conditions. For over a whole decade, Dee Dee medicated Gypsy and forced her to use a wheelchair for financial benefits. Eventually, Gypsy learned the truth about her life, and asked her online boyfriend to kill her mother. Her mother, the evil authoritative figure, pushed Gypsy over the edge, causing her to wish for her mother’s death.

Seeing the evil forces in action influence young minds to believe it is normal. As a young child, the mind is like a sponge. The early childhood is a time where children are taking in the most information and studying their environment. If a child is born into a dangerous life, that life is normalized for them. The boys were born into a community where half of high school students had been shot at, and 45 percent said they had seen someone killed. “The Littlest Killers,” written by Brent Staples, illustrates the “almost naturally occurring event. The projects have become factories for crime and killers, with homicide taking younger and younger victims each year”. The conditions of the Chicago public housing projects are at fault for the negligence to human life.

Humans are easily coerced into malicious behaviors. Simply, individuals sustain the pressure of others and social standards, and act differently in certain groups. Without order, individuals unleash their id, or instinctual side, but with evil authority, individuals can be pressured into committing atrocities. As well, the environment in which people live influences their behavior. Evil will always be released into the world, and most people will succumb, revealing the evil within even the most moral being. 

09 March 2021

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