I’ve been reading a lot about life in the former Soviet Union, where millions of innocent people were murdered for “equality”. I’m trying to understand how it was possible for an entire population to voluntarily give up their freedom in exchange for concentration camps and mass graves. The conclusion I’ve come to is that the majority of the Russian people must have lost the ability to make judgments about right and wrong. Could such a thing happen here?
According to Everett Piper, writing in the Washington Times, it already has: (H/T Ari)
For some 70 years, “The Lottery” has rightly been included in many literary anthologies for its shocking portrayal of the power of groupthink and the human inclination to accept evil.
For more than 30 years beginning in 1970, English professor Kay Haugaard used the story to spur corresponding discussions in her literature class at Pasadena City College. Ms. Haugaard says she could always count on some common reactions:
“Everyone thought it was scary because, as someone inevitably said, ‘The characters seem just like regular people — you know, like us!’”
“The story always impressed the class with the insight that I felt the author had intended: the danger of just ‘going along’ with something habitually, without examining its rationale and value. In spite of the changes that I had witnessed over the years in anthologies and in students’ writing, Jackson’s message about blind conformity always spoke to my students’ sense of right and wrong.”
Then in the 1990s, something started to change dramatically in how her students responded to the sobering tale. Rather than being horrified by it, some claimed they were bored by it, while others thought the ending was “neat.”
When Ms. Haugaard pressed them for more of their thoughts, she was appalled to discover that not one student in the class was willing to say the practice of human sacrifice was morally wrong! She describes one interaction with a student, whom she calls Beth:
“‘Are you asking me if I believe in human sacrifice?’ Beth responded thoughtfully, as though seriously considering all aspects of the question. ‘Well, yes,’ I managed to say. ‘Do you think that the author approved or disapproved of this ritual?’
“I was stunned: This was the [young] woman who wrote so passionately of saving the whales, of concern for the rain forests, of her rescue and tender care of a stray dog. ‘I really don’t know,’ said Beth; ‘If it was a religion of long standing, [who are we to judge]?’”
“For a moment, I couldn’t even respond,” reports Ms. Haugaard. “This woman actually couldn’t seem to bring herself to say plainly that she was against human sacrifice. My classes of a few years before would have burst into nervous giggles at the suggestion. This class was calmly considering it.”
At one point, a student explained she had been taught not to judge, and if this practice worked for them, who was she to argue differently.
Appalled by the student’s moral indifference, Ms. Haugaard concludes, “Today, for the first time in my thirty years of teaching, I looked my students in the eye and not one of them in my class could tell me that this society, this cultural behavior was a bad thing.”
Not one of these students would say human sacrifice is wrong? The whole point of “The Lottery” is to show the dangers of blindly following bad ideas. But Ms. Haugaard’s students had been taught that labels like good and evil, sacred and sinful, no longer applied as absolutes — and they responded accordingly. They had been taught that to assign moral values to actions was, in itself, wrong.
She’s for stopping global warming, but not for stopping human sacrifice. How come? Because she was taught to be against global warming by her leftist public school teachers. She was “taught” her secular leftist views because the teachers presented those secular leftist views as morally pure, and opposition to those secular leftist views as morally evil. Naturally, the stupid student wanted to accept the “good” views of her far-left public school teachers. On actual moral issues like child sacrifice, she has no ability to judge right from wrong. She accepted what she was taught. She can’t think for herself. The mere mention of opposing views sends her rushing for a safe space.
The concepts of right and wrong only have meaning if there really is a way that human beings ought to behave. In a theistic worldview, right and wrong are independent of our feelings, because they are rooted in the character of the Creator and Designer of the universe. The Designer gets to decide how we should act, not us. But if there is no Designer, (atheism), then humans decide for themselves. They decide what’s right and wrong for them based on their feelings. What’s right is what works for them. Theists discuss morality as they discuss mathematics – choose what is correct. Atheists discuss morality as they discuss taste in food – choose what you like. As secularists have taken over in the schools, students have lost the ability to even have conversations about morality. And so, we’ve raised a generation of young people who cannot make moral judgments.
How can we expect people who can’t make moral judgments to respond to evils, like the evils of communism? Before you can get to concentration camps and mass graves, you have to educate the young people into imbecility. And the secular public schools have done a pretty good job of that. We’ve got a generation of young people who are in lockstep with their far-left atheist teachers on every issue. They can’t think for themselves, and they can’t listen to views different from the views their teachers taught them. They don’t have the brains to resist those who would enslave us all.