Heroism vs. Evil

In 1971, prof. Phil Zimbardo performed a study at Stanford University -- “Psychology of Evil". What he hoped to reveal is how ordinary people can be seduced into profoundly immoral acts, how they cross the line and commit crimes against humanity on a national level. Today, almost 50 years later, every psychology student is familiar with this project.

For those who are not acquainted with -- I will quickly explain. In order to prove how the power of institutions plays a role in corrupting people into committing insidious acts, students were invited to participate in the study through an ad in a local paper. After performing personality tests on all the applicants, prof. Zimbardo chose 24 normal, healthy college kids to participate in two weeks “Prison Experiment.” He then randomly divided them into two groups: guards and prisoners. It is important to mention that during 1971 most young people were anti-war, pro-civil rights individuals. However, about two days into the experiments the kids got so much into their role that the guards started to abuse the prisoners. Even though the professor was constantly intervening, he could not control the behavior of all students 24/7. All physical force was prohibited, but the guards used psychological force to abuse the rest of the students who played the role of prisoners. After just a couple of days in, one student started to break down psychologically and asked to quit the experiment. Of course, he was free to go at any time. Each day after that, another student broke down in a similar fashion, and at the end of the 6th day, professor Zimbardo had to stop the experiment prematurely because the guards were getting out of control.

The study reviews that evil is a horrendous act, and in special circumstances, can be committed by just ordinary people. According to the law of the Universe, each side has its opposite. There is no left without right, no up without down, no right without wrong, and no good without bad. On the opposite side of evil stands heroism and this is what I want to concentrate on.

Heroes are also just regular people who make a choice to do the right thing and suppress evil, unjust authority, corruption, immorality. A hero is a person who chose to act for others before themselves by nature. We know names like mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, or Gandhi who dedicated their whole life to a cause. We basically hear those names and think,

"Wow, that's great, but I could not do that."

Why not?

Most people who read my articles usually just say,

"Oh, that's nice,” or don’t say anything at all getting on with their lives.

I wonder then:

“Did you read this at all?”

I think only two people actually wrote to me afterward to discuss my content.

That's cool, because as long as I am able to touch just one life and inspire that person to do the right thing I hope those people will continue to spread the message and inspire others.

If you belong to those who would like to awaken the hero inside, how do you know what position to choose and how to expand the lionhearted nature? What will be the force that will push you to do the brave acts without any reward or expectations?

Heroes are people who act sociocentrically instead of egocentrically, and they are just ordinary people like you and me. People who engage in some heroic act often do that just once in their life, mainly because for a heroic act to happen you have to face some kind of disaster. Most of us don't get the opportunity to be a hero everyone talks about because luckily for us we don't find ourselves in these horrendous situations, or at least… So we think.

You have a chance to be brave by marly doing the right thing and be the hero because you might have an opportunity and if you don’t take that chance, you will always live with this thought that you could have been that knight in shining armor but passed on that chance. When you look around, you will see that heroes are needed everywhere. From social support, animal welfare to those who fight bullying. You can also be a hero in your own family or work environment by doing things to help your family members and work colleagues feel special.

Any situation creates position and opposition, and it depends on your point of view. We commonly choose one side or the other. There is a third position some people chose, and those, just mind their own business and don't get involved. Those are commonly labeled as the bystanders.

There is yet another option to take a stand and create a VISION. When you create that vision, you can see all points of view. You see the variety and you are not "for" nor “against.” It is a stand from which you let others speak, so they can be heard. Only when someone's point of view is heard and accepted, they can let it go, stop fighting, and evolve to the next level of who they are. There have been great standers thought our history. They all have made something profound happened. People who generated transformation rather than change. These two elements are very different from each other.

Change has to make something wrong in order to change onto something right, it has to insult something first and often go back and forth.

Transformation on the other hand honors the past and never denies it. As a matter a fact it transforms it and suddenly everything from the past makes sense. It makes us understand that whatever life and the Universe throw at us, it does that for a reason. It helps us to develop as humans, rather than manipulate and change our agenda.

You do not have to wear a cape to be a hero. No matter who you are or what you do, there are plenty of opportunities to be heroic all around you. Think about the times when you felt lost or scared, only to have another person come along and help you through a tough time…

And when the opportunity arises, you'll be able to come through and save the day. Let's oppose the evil system, advocate for the respect of personal dignity, and for justice and peace which sadly our administration has not been doing.