The article “You can’t be a sweet cucumber in a vinegar barrel” published by Edge.org (2005), presents a talk with a well-known American psychologist Philip Zimbardo. The main social problem discussed in the article is dehumanization that propels normal, healthy people to commit horrendous acts against other people. This is an important issue because it concerns the behavior that all people are capable of engaging in without realizing it.
This problem threatens not just the United States, but also all countries. Zimbardo explored the depths of the human psyche in multiple experiments. His most famous study is known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. It required college students to assume the roles of guards and prisoners. In a surprisingly short amount of time, students fused with their roles and delved into the psychological torture of the prisoners. The most disturbing feature of the experiment is that volunteers were ordinary people, with no delinquencies.
It is not an American only phenomenon, as the same behavior was observed in other countries, for instance, the Holocaust during World War II and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq. Zimbardo thinks that people will do vial things if they remain anonymous and stop viewing the victim as human. However, he places a major responsibility on the silent majority, who are aware of the transpiring atrocities and are complicit by not speaking out.
Personally, I agree with Zimbardo that dehumanization and the lack of liability disclose the negative side of human nature. Most people think that they would not comply with violence, stand up to perpetrators, and vocally express their contempt. Yet, in reality, very few individuals are capable of noble actions. The reason why people are discouraged lies in the silence of those who are aware and refuse to act. This blind spot was the most eye-opening discovery for me in this article.
You can’t be a sweet cucumber in a vinegar barrel. (2005). Edge.org. Web.