Most people have likely read Zimbardo’s book or watched these documentary films, but they are a sobering reminder as to the fragile nature of our ‘goodness’.

Recently I read an article about Nigel Wright and all the Conservatives who now find themselves the object of derision for what appears to be a culture of deceit.  But the writer suggested these politicians and the civil servants and bureaucrats surrounding them likely started off as basically decent people,……idealists who genuinely believed in their party platform and their leader.

The writer essentially said it was not that they started off as bad apples, but that it was THE BARREL.  The barrel turned everyone into a bad apple.  You will hear Zimbardo suggesting that in this video, so probably the recent writer borrowed his ideas from Zimbardo’s analysis.

Zimbardo appears to discount the word of our creator who tells us plainly that because of the rebellion of our first parents in Eden, we all, without exception are born with a sin nature, and are separated from our God by our rebellion against him.

Because Jesus left the glory of Heaven and took on our humanity, for the purpose of giving his own sinless body, mind and soul to die on our behalf, we can also rise above our lower nature.  And after death in this present world, we’ll be forever freed from the power of evil.

Where Zimbardo is wrong, is in his belief that ordinary people get the opportunity to be heroes, maybe only once in a lifetime.  But it is in the entire journey of our lives that we are developing who we really are.  In the course of our ordinary lives, barely a day passes where we don’t have some sort of fork in the road,…..choose the left fork, or the right fork.  Do a kindness or a generous act or give in to our weariness and apathy.  Stand up to the little bullies and pay a small price or turn your face away in all the little issues,……and cave when giant obstacles stand in your way. Heroism is a state of mind far more than it is a one-time blaze of courage.

All of life is a journey towards our final destination.  Not a single human being is perfect, but Jesus Christ the Saviour is, and it is his perfection that covers us when we give our lives into his loving care.  On the Judgement Day, God the Father will look at us, and see the perfection of his son.  So this journey is full and rich and meaningful when we ask Jesus, by his spirit to give us the strength and power to overcome our natural lower inclinations and to become more like him.  And Christians are followers of Christ, they are not Christ and therefore still quite visibly imperfect.  We are being conformed into his image.

When Richard was working towards his Bachelor of Science and studying at Simon Fraser University for his teaching degree, well-meaning people often told him to keep his religion and value system on the back burner, so as not to harm his career goals.  The end justifies the means in other words.  Hide who you really are,…achieve your goal, and then you will be able to accomplish great things for the Lord.  Yeah right!  Behave like a spineless coward because you have such lofty ideals you want to attain.  But the habit of cowering and ducking and deceiving will shape you, so that in the end the goal is earth-bound.

Richard, I am thankful to say, has always cared more about what God the Creator knows about us, the work of his hands, than work at trying to deceive other mere mortals so as to gain their approval.  Gordon Lightfoot sang a really great song,… “Oh God, the pride of man, broken in the dust again.”

So the question is not why such a high percent of ‘normal, decent’ people would so rapidly descend into horrible evil behaviour, …... the real question should be, what sets the small percent apart who are able to resist the downward slide.   –  Gerda

From Stanford University professor Philip Zimbardo’s talk “The Psychology of Evil: The Lucifer Effect in Action.”

Moving toward Evil

The Psychology of Evil: The Lucifer Effect in Action