The Daily Stoic for July 26th. “When Good Men Do Nothing”.
“Often injustice lies in what you aren’t doing, not only in what you are doing.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 9.5
There have been many studies about the role of the German population in the Holocaust performed during the Nazi regime. Some of them are written in a way that seems to be trying to excuse the peasants. Sentences like “they were not really aware of what was happening…”, “the population thought Jewish people were being just taken outside of the country, or to labor camps…”.
Europe, especially at the beginning, was also caught in-between incredulity -this cannot be true- and inaction -well, that’s their problem, let’s not stir things up-.
I can understand the reasons for such arguments. We are all humans, and we refuse to believe the population of the whole country could take part in such events. Either as perpetrators or as silent witnesses.
When Good Men Do Nothing
But it happened. And they knew about it. You can’t make thousands and thousands of people disappear without the rest of Germans noticing.
So yes, the good men doing nothing are probably as guilty as the perpetrators themselves.
And yet, in today’s society, it still happens. Take China for instance. An authoritarian dystopia more akin to a George Orwell novel than a real country of the XXI century. A place where the government employs a network of cameras and an Artificial Intelligence algorithm to track and oppress the population.
Or take Russia, for instance. Another dystopian dictatorship disguised as a democracy where gay people are deprived of their rights and even persecuted. A country that still lives between the nostalgy of the old USSR empire and the grotesque cold war paranoid psyche.
And yet, Europe and the US keep on laughing along with them. We keep on playing the Olympics with them, making business with them and pretending they are real democracies.
Obviously, I know diplomacy is a complex world, but I would like to see one country -I certainly don’t expect it to be mine- saying “No! We are not going to laugh at your jokes anymore”.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “When Good Men Do Nothing”, discusses how a silent witness may be as responsible for an act of injustice as the perpetrator itself.