It has been said that all that is needed for evil to flourish is for people of good will to do nothing. Indeed, for every handful of cruel people in the world, it seems there are millions more who would do nothing to stop cruelty from being carried out against vulnerable people.
The mentality of many individuals is that, if the injustice is not being done to them, they don’t need to do anything about it. In general, most people could not be bothered to speak out against a wrongful act done to others until it is too late or when damage has been done.
How many times have we read in news reports of a person or group of people being harassed and abused in public with no one even bothering to intervene? The answer to that is, a lot of times for sure. It happened during World War II when six million Jews were exterminated in what historians refer to now as the Holocaust. It happened because the people who knew about the German Nazis’ plans to purge the nation of elements they deemed inferior to their kind did little or nothing to stop it from happening. The German people even thought of Adolf Hitler’s vision as their country’s ticket to a rise back to greatness.
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In recent times, the minority of Muslims in Myanmar are being persecuted by radical Buddhists who want to purge their country of elements they think are inferior to their kind. There were almost 200 Muslims killed in clashes between the warring groups in 2012. Things are far from being under control since Muslims from Indonesia are planning to retaliate. The atrocities committed by radical Buddhists have surprised many people around the world since they are known for promoting peace and tolerance. Well, not anymore. In fact, their actions are fuelling anti-Muslim violence in Asia and could dampen the economic development of Myanmar and promote instability instead — all because of a radical Buddhist leader named Wirathu who is inciting the hatred.
In a lot of instances, some people actually enjoy watching others being persecuted — like they have some sort of perverse need to see others suffer. In the celebrity world, the photographer who took photos of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson allegedly being choked by her husband, advertising mogul Charles Saatchi was criticized for not intervening instead of merely photographing the incident. One wonders too why the rest of the people in the restaurant who witnessed it and who were said to be appalled by Saatchi’s abusive behavior did nothing to stop the abuse.
To be fair, it’s not always easy to speak out against bullies. Yes, that’s just what these cruel people are. They are bullies who are used to getting their way at other people’s expense. They start out committing petty offenses against their target and then eventually progress to criminal acts as extreme measures when they don’t get their way. A bully is an overbearing and domineering person who suffers from tunnel vision or extreme narrow-mindedness. They sometimes act like sociopaths who can put on their charm to win people’s trust in order to gain leverage to manipulate certain situations. They also derive pleasure in seeing others suffer after they have made them look bad in the eyes of the community.
Bullies habitually badger and intimidate people who they think are smaller and weaker than them. In the advent of social media, bullies would badger and intimidate innocent people by incessantly posting defamatory messages online. If they see someone siding or defending their victim, they will not hesitate to retaliate by including that person in their hit list. Sadly, that can be enough reason for some people to avoid getting involved. It takes individuals with a lot of moral fortitude and strong principles to stand up to bullies.
One reason why some people tolerate appalling behavior from bullies is because more often than not, bullies can be popular owing to their flamboyant nature. Another reason bullies tend to get away with their actions is simply because it’s difficult for other people to accept the realization that someone they used to look up to is not who they thought they were. Once people have put their trust and confidence in someone, their mind switches to denial mode then refuse to accept that they have been betrayed. This is especially true of bullies who habitually defer to God as their reference.
It would be easier for people to acknowledge the reality that no one is a saint, particularly those who are in politics. Most people with political ambitions always have personal agendas. Those who enter politics tend to be those who are attracted to the power and privilege that comes with the position. Take the case of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino. Millions of Filipinos placed their trust in him because his parents were popular and were perceived as saints. Likewise, when he was campaigning for the job, he continuously promised to do the right thing.
Unfortunately, three years after being voted into office, there is enough evidence to suggest that he comes across as a bully. He has relentlessly badgered the public with messages that his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her allies are “evil”. A lot of people can tell he uses this as a smoke screen to divert people’s attention from his own shortfalls. In fact, lately, there are an increasing number of people who are starting to realize how seemingly manipulative BS Aquino is.
Obviously, there are still a lot more Filipinos who think he can do no wrong. He is infallible to some because it is hard for them to reconcile what he says with what he does. All his talk about the righteous path just doesn’t jive with the way he applies double standards in dealing with his allies and enemies alike. It has been noted in the past how he intervenes with due process whether it is one of his friends or one of his allies who fall into trouble with the law.
A quick look at the records will show you how BS Aquino helps facilitate how things progress in court cases. He was quick to declare his ally Grace Pacada innocent when she was charged with plunder. He even paid for her bail and awarded her with a lucrative position in the Commission on Elections. When it comes to his enemies, BS Aquino sought for the speedy conviction to oust former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona from his post in 2012. Unfortunately, a speedy trial is not something GMA will get under BS Aquino’s administration. She could actually be under hospital arrest for the rest of his term even when there is no solid evidence to prosecute her in court. Keeping her locked up means the President who promised to put her in jail will not have to look bad to the public. It seems the best way to keep her under arrest is to delay the legal proceedings. Frankly, any normal court would have thrown her case out for lack of evidence a long time ago.
The above proves that in many cases, things are not always what they seem. Those who have clean and good images may actually be bullies. Only a few people can see through the haze though. It is not easy to go against people’s perception of the truth especially when the bullies are in power or when they are influential.
The truth is, most people are not ready for the truth because they can’t handle the truth. And the reason they can’t handle the truth has a lot to do with their unwillingness to accept that they simply made a mistake in their character judgment or that they have been duped. When you campaign heavily for a candidate you trusted and believed in but that candidate got involved in criminal activities for example, it won’t be easy to accept that you made a mistake.
Not everyone is strong enough to handle the repercussions from any fallout in relationships after the trust has been broken. This is because most people are sticklers for routine. When they have relied on someone to do the right thing and it turns out that someone was unreliable, it becomes a daunting task to find someone they can trust again. This notion is universal and not something unique to any society. It just so happens that there are people in some societies like the Philippines who are gullible enough to believe that some politicians who belong to a popular family unit are saints.
Recent events around the world have proven that most politicians cannot be trusted. Every citizen in the world has to apply a certain degree of skepticism to those who hold power in government. The government exists to protect its citizens and not the other way around. Government abuse is rampant even in First World countries. Politicians in power can bend the law just to persecute those who try to speak out against government abuse or bullying. Instead of protecting whistleblowers, they turn them into enemies of the state.
The case of whistleblower turned fugitive Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor in the US, has attracted worldwide attention and divided sentiments about how the US government gathers information from people they perceive to be “persons of interests”. Snowden has revealed damning information to the media stating that the US government has authorized spying on phone and text conversations not only of private US citizens but also of other international diplomats. He also revealed that major online providers like Google, Facebook and Microsoft are in cahoots with NSA, giving them access to search information on foreign suspects with court approval.
There are people who see Snowden as a hero but there are also those who see him as a traitor especially when he divulged that “[the] NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cell phone companies to steal all of your SMS data.” But it seems Snowden has found powerful allies in the international community with Chinese and Russian officials ignoring requests from Washington to hand him over. Now he has slipped under the radar with the help of Wikileaks officials. He managed to go underground with speculation going around that he is now under the protection of the Ecuadorian government. How he got there remains a mystery and would be good material for a future suspense/thriller Hollywood film.
It is still not clear what motivates people like Snowden to publicize highly sensitive and secret information to the rest of the world. Whatever the reason, his life will never be the same again. Likewise, he has made the people of the world more paranoid about their privacy. It remains to be seen if his actions will either prevent “evil” from flourishing or encourage it even more and serve as an inspiration for others to step up and muster the courage to speak out against wrongdoing or hold their silence and allow injustice to continue.
In life, things are not always what they seem.