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Mentality Behind Genocide – How to Avoid Future Tragedies

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Last updated on April 17, 2022

When making decisions, trusting yourself to uphold proper morals is key, but what happens when seemingly clear answers become blurry? With recent threats of genocide in Ukraine, we must research and confirm a positive answer to this question. Genocide, a horrific mass murder targeting a specific group of people, is often associated with maniacs. However, many people get tricked or manipulated into committing genocide. With their families’ lives as well as their own on the line, people can often feel extreme pressure to do things they would normally perceive as immoral.

The Milgram Experiment (conducted by Stanley Milgram) was an experiment that researched how much effect authority has on our decisions. Milgram organized people into groups and observed how much each participant would electrocute another person when being told to do so by an authoritative figure. The results were surprising, with 90% of participants going as far as a deadly 450 volts when being told to do so by multiple professionals. This blind obedience shows that the human brain can rebel against itself when put into stressful situations. The experiment also revealed that people will most likely conform to authoritative figures, even if it hurts someone else.

This obedience can be amplified when combined with the urge to protect one’s children. For instance, years after the Rwandan genocide, Martha Mukamushinzimana, a Hutu woman with five children, admitted to participating in the genocide against the Tutsi people. In an interview with journalist Natalia Ojewska, she said she “felt compelled to follow the orders”. She had given birth just two weeks ago, and followed the crowd in gathering stones to be thrown at the Tutsi people. She turned herself in 15 years later, unable to resolve her immense guilt for her participation in the genocide. Mukamushinzimana’s story demonstrates first hand how the voice of authority as well as a mother’s instinct can make someone betray their morals.

Government influence and manipulation also play a significant role in genocides. Sometimes, conforming to the government does not seem like a choice to the citizens. Also, national governments can often get away with many bad deeds because of their sovereign immunity. The term sovereign immunity refers to the government’s blatant disregard of morals and law because they know they will get away with it. This manipulation is not only easy but also legal if the government makes it so.

People need to be aware of this manipulation, either from the government or even our brains, which will help prevent it from happening in the future. Genocide is not just an act committed in foreign countries or old times. It can happen anywhere, and it’s so much easier than people realize. From this article, take away this: don’t always trust the government and don’t always trust yourself.

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