Monday, December 20, 2010

The Cure

Since I gave some cause for paranoia, I thought I better share a cure.  At the end of Zimbardo's chapter he gives us a recipe for 'promoting civic virtue, moral engagement and human goodness.  That sounds good.

'1.  Openly acknowledge errors in judgment
              reduces need to justify mistake and continue with immoral action
2.  Encourage mindfulness
              encourage society to reflect on actions and ethical implications
3.  Promote sense of personal responsibility and accountability for all actions
              reduces diffused sense of responsibility
4.  Discourage minor transgressions
              cheating, gossiping, lying, teasing, and bullying provide first steps toward escalating abuses
5.  Distinguish between just and unjust authority
              just because someone is in a position of authority does not mean they deserve obedience
6.  Support critical thinking
              demand evidence and moral justification, and evaluate its credibility
7.  Reward moral behavior
              those who do the right thing under difficult situations need recognition
8.  Respect human diversity
              key to reducing in-group biases and prejudices
9.  Change social conditions that promote anonymity
              making people feel special and accountable = socially desirable actions + self-worth
10.  Challenge pressures for conformity
              individuals need strategies to resist group influence and maintain moral compass
              these steps are often the first toward fascism'

When evaluating our next congress, lets take these 11 steps in mind.  Let's critically think about which of our leaders is doing what, demanding evidence, moral justification and then let's evaluate the credibility of that evidence.  Let's reward moral behavior, mindfulness, the ability to admit mistakes and take responsibility for one's actions.  Let's reward those who respect human diversity.  Conversely, let's hold those accountable who cheat, gossip, lie and bully to the detriment of our fellow citizens and our leaders, let's distinguish between just and unjust authority.  Also, let's keep in mind that we don't have to sacrifice our freedoms for security. 

Two more highlights from this chapter:

"Focusing on people as causes of evil then exonerates social structures and political decision making for contributing to underlying conditions that foster evil:
poverty, racism, sexism and elitism."

"It is only through the recognition of our shared human condition that we can acknowledge vulnerability to situational forces."

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