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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 14-Aug-16

 


Sunday 14-August-16

The need to remember our dark side

I was asked recently about whether we still need remember the darker parts of our history, such slavery and the holocaust. It made me think about what is sometimes called 'the shadow side' of our personality, where we know there is a part of our selves that might act in ways that we know are wrong. The fear of such things can be seen in 'dark' and 'shadow', names that suggest things hidden and dangerous. It is no surprise that Star Wars evoked this in its classic retelling the hero's journey and the 'dark side of the force'.

This is what I wrote:

We all have a dark side that cares more about us and less about others. For some this is darker, and for others it is harder to keep callous tendencies under control. Even for the best of us, it is easy to let this control slip, especially when we feel we are in danger.

We also can fall into obedience and conform to social influence and roles, as shown by the experiments of Milgram, Asch, Sherif, Zimbardo and others. We do as we think others want us to do, even if we know this is wrong. We believe that our superiors are responsible, not us. We excuse ourselves in the moment by telling ourselves that our actions are necessary or that the other person ?deserves it?. And so we commit acts that we may later bitterly regret.

Remembering humanity?s darker acts is uncomfortable. It?s meant to be. It?s a reminder of our dark side and that we must be constantly vigilant lest we slide, ever so smoothly, into self-justified inhumanity.


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