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Blog | Vlastimil Marek

Pointer

The world is a strange place, if we are to consider how homo sapiens sapiens handles himself in it. Recent world events brought up a whole range of situations and I would like to bring to your attention a look at those from different perspective as it’s my good habit.

 

The main activist of Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel was awarded one of the most prestigious honours from American president George Bush, as one of very few foreign citizens. The same honour was awarded to another ten American citizens and if my eyes didn’t deceive me one of them was famous former actor Charlton Heston. Yes, he is the one of the famous actors in the movie Romulus and Remus and also probably the most famous supporter of “right” to own a shotgun (he has been chairman of american association of like-minded “patriots” for a number of years and he successfully managed to vetoed passing of law which would impose certain constraints to shotgun trading).

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Jailbird, a mass murderer from Cambodian extermination camp, in eighties years said as if it didn’t mean a thing: “If the party or government claimed that my uncle betrayed socialism, I would kill them too”.

And when the Iranians believed that both of Saddam Hussain’s sons Udai and Kusai were dead, thanks to TV footages, they celebrated the end of killlings in their usual way – shooting in the air. As it emerged later, the fired shots have killed thirty people.

And what do these events have in common? The fact, that gun is only a gun and its  sole purpose is to shoot (to injure or to kill).

Why are people unable to realize this and continue manufacturing more and more weapons? Why are they voluntarily polluting the air and water and the human population is multiplying uncontrollably? And where lies the true reason for the failures of the intellectuals in world history? Why did the Germans (and Italians, Chinese, Chilean, Cambodian and many others) get fooled by Hitler (and Mussollini, Mao, Hussain, Pinochet and Pol Pot) and blindly followed his (nazist, maoist, communist, oil, profit oriented or as in example of Dr. Mengele – “scientific”) instructions?

Well, let’s look at it from a different angle. What if the true reason lies within each and every one of us? Small children can not lie until they reach certain age.

A test was performed to find out whether children of certain ages would lie and if so for what kind of reward. The test was simple like: give an answer to a type of question 'what is it?'. As it emerged, when the children were asked to point out a finger they would simply not lie. But when given pointer sticks and asked to point out the answer the very same children and even younger ones, otherwise incapable of lying, now easily lied.

And where am I aiming at? Let me show you two ways to how look at it. Firstly, we are programmed by evolution for life in African savanna in a group of maximum of 25 members. Our weapons would be our teeth and fingernails. For using them we have the appropriate ‘control operators’ anchored in our brains. That’s why for instance a person, who would never kill a rabbit, with no hesitation takes his “pointer” in form of bow and arrow and shoots and kills the rabbit.

Similarly, a pilot presses button that releases a bomb, or different example, he consumes his everyday portion of sausages or burger although would feel faint when looking at blood. Or when some government officer approves with his signature the building of another gigantic waterworks which will endanger and damage lives of hundreds of villages and hundredthousands of people living in the area. He is not hurting anyone directly, is he? He just signs the documents or presses the button, he’s merely pointing a pointer.

Secondly, our mind is incapable of handling such amount of new information, all the emotions and situations. Simply said, it’s too much, we don’t have the capacity to deal with every thing that’s happening around us. And we are easily fooled (especially by other people, in the crowd, by cinema or TV screen, etc) to give in to an easy way out. The nature and evolution prepared us to deal directly with rabbit or even lion (simple principle: fight or flee) but not to handle ourselves in encounters with the government powers, local magistrate officers, gas pedal in our car driving in high speed or the above mentioned shotguns.

Famous psychological test of Stanley Milgram also showed how easily we can get manipulated. In his test, he tested a groups of students. The students were asked to turn up a machine that carried electric current as a “punishment” for a group of test subjects each time they failed a task and they watched their reactions to the punishment on monitors.

The vast majority of students would turn the electric current up after each fail without thinking twice, to “torture” the test subjects on the other side. They watched them rolling on the floor in pain and agony until their deaths (important to say at this point that there was no electric current going through the cables and the second group in fact were actors hired to fake the the agony and death).

Only a handful of students used their judgement, morals and courage to disobey orders they were given and stopped their test half way through.

If you’re asking what I’m contemplating here, it’s simply an idea that the laws, the way government institutions and their mechanisms work should be set in a way that complies in harmony with the way the human kind function.

That perhaps government officials, law makers, judges, army and police forces or even bus drivers who are responsible for people in their buses should be put through psychological testing. And that by law these people and others who are paid from tax payers money would be immediately accountable for all decisions they make since they have been given such imaginary pointers.

The time has come for people to learn how to deal with their “pointers” and also themselves.

Perhaps a long time, maybe few generations long, is needed for such change but it can’t be done any other way. And in the meanwhile we all should be very much aware of the dangers of our inability to resist temptations.

    

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