Have you ever wondered what compels people to do terrible things?
- Why does the father yell at his children over spilled milk?
- Why does the mother harshly compare her children to more successful children?
- Why does the “friend” ghost another?
- Why does the racist belittle others?
While these evil actions can have dire consequences in the world, evil comes from a rather mundane force – simple (negative) neurons.
- The father yells because he is tired.
- The mother compares because she is plain scared of social judgement.
- The “friend” lacks motivation (deciding to watch Netflix instead).
- The racist is scared of losing his artificial platform of power. If he is equal to others, he can be judged for his individual actions.
While I no longer have the direct quote, there was a line by Abraham Lincoln, where he mentioned that he had no hatred towards the Confederacy, because he understood that the true war was not between the North and the South but between the higher and lower natures of man.
“[W]hite Americans… are dimly, or vividly, aware that the history they have fed themselves is mainly a lie, but they do not know how to release themselves from it, and they suffer enormously from the resulting personal incoherence. This… is heard nowhere more plainly than in those stammering, terrified dialogues… Do not blame me. I was not there…. I have nothing against you, nothing! What have you got against me? What do you want? But, on the same day, in another gathering, and in the most private chamber of his heart, always, the white American remains proud of that history for which he does not wish to pay, and from which, materially, he has profited so much.” – The White Man’s Guilt by James Baldwin