The riots we have seen in the UK this past week have next to naff all to do with the socio-political climate and all to do with a lack of judgement at best and a lack of moral compass at worse.
I have just sat and watched a film called The Experiment where 26 men are offered $1000 a day to take part in a psychological experiment to be prisoners for two weeks. A handful are picked out to be the prison guards and the rest are the inmates. They are told that no harm can come to them and that they will be watched constantly. The guards are told that if they do not act in a right or just manner then a red light will go on. They are also told that this will happen if they employ any violence. This red light in effect becomes their judge and jury and the guards in the main leave their own moral compasses at the door.
The film shows rape and murder, which are probably at the top of the tree of what the guards did because they didn’t believe they were doing anything wrong. The red light never comes on and they descent further and further down the route of believing that they are invincible. It is only when the prisoners themselves manage to take over and are involved in a right royal rumble that the light goes on and the gates are unlocked and everyone can walk out – well everyone except the dead prisoner anyway.
The main guard takes a knife to the main prisoner but the prisoners grabs it before he is killed but instead of turning the knife on his captor he throws the knife away and goes for an old fashioned punch to the face (times about 358). This shows that despite all he had been through he still had that essence of a moral compass and knew right from wrong. Something the the guards (or those who had been put in power) had lost.
As I was watching it I saw a clear resemblance to what we have seen in the past few days. People not finding their moral compass when high on the adrenaline and rush of power. It is one of the main reasons why I can’t blame this on any one section of society. Sadly a lot of people when high on the rush and power and feeling of invincibility will make decisions that they wouldn’t when in a normal state or is it?
I like to think that no matter how pushed I was from whatever direction that I would know right from wrong. It is part of who I am that I know when push comes to shove what is good and what is bad. I do not believe that there is any circumstance when I would look and think ‘well he/she is getting away with it so why shouldn’t I?’ There is no way that I’d see 100s of other people lighting fires and torching shops and think that it was ok because other people were doing it.
Therefore I find it hard to put it down to sheer mob mentality. Yes it is easy to get swept up by what everyone else around you is doing but you should also have moral fibre that would make you know that it was wrong. If you do it anyway then your moral compass is either broken or you didn’t have one anyway. I don’t buy that you just lost it for a few minutes and made a bad decision.
We all make bad decisions in life but they are rarely ones that are on a pure ethical or criminal basis. A few people died but also 100s of people lost their homes and businesses. This isn’t a case of a few people rampaging through the streets on a whim it is a sign that many people just do not know right from wrong and that is the saddest thing of all.
I always thought that we were the king of the species on this planet but watching the goings on over the past week it seems as though the one thing that gave us the edge over the rest of the species living on this robust and quite wondrous planet – that being our ability to make the right decisions based not just on instinct but on doing the right thing when it comes down to it – is not as big an advantage as I previous thought and that my friends is the saddest thing of all.
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