.. ople rescued others for various reasons. Some were motivated by a sense of morality. Others had a relationship with a particular person or group and thus, felt a sense of obligation. Some were politically driven and were adamantly opposed to Hitler.
Other rescuers were involved at work as diplomats, nurses, social workers, and doctors, and thus were conditioned to continue their involvement beyond their professional obligation. This is where cognitive dissonance comes into effect in this instance. These people were raised to help, it was a part of their moral fabric. To go against that learned belief would cause dissonance, therefore, these people had it woven into them to rescue, to help, thus, reducing dissonance. After the rescuers found ways to help, they took action. They were not victims of the bystander effect.
Sometimes the entire transformation from bystander to rescuer took just seconds, but the effects of this transformation were life changing. First, a rescuer had to recognize that a person was endangered. This was not always easy to know because of the propaganda and the secrecy of Hitler and the Nazis. Next, rescuers had to decide if they could and should take responsibility for helping and risk the potential consequences. The above theories that stopped the bystanders from helping were not a factor for these people even though the risks could be great, such as public hangings, deportation to concentration camps, and on-the-spot shootings.
The scope of the rescuing activities varied, from leaving food regularly in a strategic location, to creating a bureaucracy which allowed thousands of Jews to emigrate, to hiding someone within one’s house for several years. It is interesting to note, that all of the rescuers that we read about, would not call themselves heroes. This lends iteslf to the moral philosophy of virtue ethics usually used in conjunction with heroes and saints. Heroes think they ‘ought’ to do what they do and thus, do not consider their actions or character to be morally optional. This shows that not all requirements of morality are universal obligations.
The ‘ought’ in the language of heroes is a part of self-assumed moral ideals beyond that of the everyday person and their actions are not guided self-advancement or public recognition.(2) These heroes had an intolerance for injustice and the ability to endure risk. They also had an inner core of unshakable values and beliefs as well as a streak of independence. The men and women who performed these incredible deeds of self-effacing heroism were quite unexceptional. They were ordinary people who responded to extraordinary circumstances in a morally exemplary fashion.(3) The most important thing that I have learned in this class, and will actively implement into my life, is to keep my eyes and my mind open. I have made a promise to myself to work very hard to never be a victim of the bystander effect nor to succumb to the idiocy and shallowness of prejudice.
I find myself chastising myself if a stereotypical thought slithers into my consciousness and disseminating the thought to find out why I was thinking that way. Then I go about a reasonable debate within my mind about the pros and cons of the thought and in the end, I realize why the thought was wrong. Once I realize the why, I can then go about working on changing my attitude so that hopefully, someday, I will not be plagued my such thoughts at all. I suppose I am conditioning myself, but it is a positive conditioning. I used to stop myself from thinking bad things about people just because the ‘norm’ says that it is not nice to do so.
I now realize that stopping the thought was not enough. Stopping the thought just pushed it down, it did not dissolve it. It was still in there, lurking around, waiting to rear its ugly head at any moment. I now know that these things must be purged in order to change our attitudes about the world around us if we are going to break free of the vicious cycle of prejudice. I now realize how crippling these things are in everyday life.
How many missed opportunities are out there because a stereotypical judgement I made caused me to make the ultimate attribution error about someone or a situation that rendered me immobile, frightened and weak? It is almost as if these stereotypes and prejudices and cognitive dissonance that caused as a result of them are a drug. Once you do it once, you must keep doing it or you feel uncomfortable. We become servants to them and soon they are what our lives revolve around. What a waste of precious thought, time, and energy! I am also realizing, only now, as I write this paper, how many of the negative theories that we have learned about during this class are the result of stereotypes and prejudice. They are the first dominoes in line, they are the foundation, because they are the first dominoes of cognitive dissonance. They start it, and then everyday, we conform like slaves, so that we do not feel uncomfortable.
But now, I see a pin dot of light at the end of the tunnel. For if we can eliminate our prejudices, we can topple the immense structure that seems to be devouring our culture, our children, and ultimately, our future. I understand that this is a great task, but I would rather be on a journey of this kind than the one of blindness, confusion and subservience that I have been on. I always knew that I did not want to be this type of person, having been a victim of it as a child, but I never knew quite how to go about changing my attitude. Well, there are no excuses for such behavior now, because now I have the tools.
I know I can’t change the world or even a single other person, but I can change myself, my outlook on life, my actions and my attitudes. A passage that I read once comes to mind: ‘A single small pebble causes a ripple that will travel the length of the ocean. It may take a lifetime, but it reaches the other side.’ This reminds me of the rescuers and that one person can make a difference, and I intend to. References 1.Aronson, Elliot (1999). The Social Animal, Eighth Edition 2.Beauchamp, Tom L.(1991) Philosophical Ethics, An introduction to Moral Philosophy, Second Edition. 3.Block, Gay w/Drucker, Malka (1992) Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage 4.Browning, Christopher (1992) Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Batallion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland.
5.Why the Germans? http://www.holocaust-history.org/short-essays/why- the-germans.shtml Bibliography 1.Aronson, Elliot (1999). The Social Animal, Eighth Edition 2.Beauchamp, Tom L.(1991) Philosophical Ethics, An introduction to Moral Philosophy, Second Edition. 3.Block, Gay w/Drucker, Malka (1992) Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage 4.Browning, Christopher (1992) Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Batallion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. 5.Why the Germans? http://www.holocaust-history.org/short-essays/why- the-germans.shtml.