17 steps to 'evil'.

In my favorite book 'Why We Believe What We Believe' There was a list Titled 'Seventeen Steps to Evil' This list illustrates the steps an organization can follow which will lead otherwise good people to 'evil' acts. While reading it, my mind could not help but make parallels to something I know well(and I am sure many people could draw similar parallels to institutions they know well.). Here is the list, with the corresponding concepts beside in parenthesis. (I am not saying the institution is evil, but it is structured in a way that can and has led to evil ie. Mountain Meadows Massacre, )

1)Establish a set of ideals and beliefs that insinuate your superiority over others.
(One true Church, restored gospel)

2)Provide logical justification for implementing your beliefs.
(It is the will of God. Leads to happiness, eternal life etc.)

3)Have clearly defined behaviors that the members of your group must endorse.

4)Reinforce steps 1, 2 and 3 as often as possible through discussion and written material until they become your primary beliefs.
(Scripture, Weekly Church, Monthly magazine, bi-yearly conference)

5)Have members contractually agree to the above steps, reinforcing a sense of obligation to the group and its leaders.
(Baptism, Sacrament, Temple Covenents. )

6)Select a charismatic spokesperson to advertise your group and reinforce your beliefs.
(Prophets, Apostles, Bishops etc.)

7)Create a range of punishments for those who do not conform.
(Not being 'worthy', Forbidden from participation in certain rituals, ie. sacrament, temple. Disfellowship, Excommuication, shunning by the group.)

8)Emphasize the importance of conformity and punishment to help members aspire to your ideals.
(Obedience as virtue. Unworthiness, disobedience=misery)

9)Insist that each member find new initiates to join the group.
(Every Member a Missionay)

10)Institute severe penalties for those who may wish to leave the group.
(Excommunication, shunning, teaching that to Deny the holy ghost= Greatest of all sins.)

11)Limit alternative perspectives and communication between members of your group.
(Condemning groups like Sunstone. Firing professors who write things in variance to statements by the First Presidency. Teaching that to even read or give consideration to literature opposing the Church is sin.)

12)Exclude, as much as possible, contact with people from outside the group.
(One should date only members. One cannot receive a temple recommend if they affiliate with any group that is against the Church)

13)Identify a group that opposes your beliefs and ideals.
('The World', Non-Members, Gentiles.)

14)Depersonalize and denigrate those who are not members of your group.
(Referring to those not apart of the 'The World', demeaningly and frequently)

15)Gradually increase hostility and aggression toward the out-group.
(Speak often of how 'The World' is becoming increasingly evil)

(16)When dealing with the enemy create a sense of anonymity. Don't use names for you victimizes. Give impressive titles to active members of your group.
(outsiders=gentiles, 'The World'. Active members are referring to as worthy, temple holding, priesthood holding, active, elder, bishop etc.)

17)wear a uniform or a mask or paint your face.
(Clean shaved, close cropped hair. )

eliminate the enemy.

(The Apocalypse and second coming{God's holocaust}. Mt Meadows Massacre, Blood atonement, Opposition to the Equal Eights amendment. Opposition to gay rights etc.)

I think it is interesting that some may see this, recognize that whatever group they may be apart of fits this description, yet feel it is okay for their group because they are correct.

They may feel it is wrong for others, because they are bad, but okay for them because they are good. Even though the actions and motivations may be the same. It is wrong for Nazi's to kill millions of non-christians and homosexuals, but okay for god, in preparation of his glorious return.

As if good and evil is a thing. That if someone has this thing which is evil, their actions, which may be identical to your own, are bad. In what are some of the worst books ever written, the "Left Behind" series, in what is a very rare moment of a character experiencing introspection, he reflects that it is interesting the actions and motivations of the 'anti-christ' and his supporters and those of the christians are nearly identical, the only difference is one is 'good' and one is 'evil'. But what makes one good and one evil? If it is not the motivations or actions, then it becomes a thing in and of itself, and that possessing this 'goodness' can justify identical behavior identical to the'bad guys'. I was watching a clip or Rush Limbaugh online the other night and he seems to subscribe to this way of thinking whole heartedly.

In a fascinating study, also from my favorite book, Jewish children in Israel were given a scenario from the bible. I don't remember the exact passage but it was one where people are commanded to enter a city and kill every living thing in its borders.
The Jewish Children were then asked if the agents who did the killing did correctly. The large majority said they did.
Then, what I presume was a different group of Jewish children living in Israel were given the exact same scenario, however the people and places named were changed to reflect ancient China. This time, when asked if the characters in the scenario had done right or wrong, the overwhelming majority said they had done wrong.

Here is a photo of me at some age... Maybe 8. In this photo I am winning the bronze medal for wrestling. To win this bronze metal I had to lose every single match I participated in.

A little older than five. Maybe even 8


Vincent said...

Yesterday I was accosted by a couple of white-shirted, short-haired Americans with lapel badges and other paraphernalia - Bibles, I shouldn't wonder. One was an "elder". the other had "jesus christ" as part of the wording on his badge.

I was glad to respond with "Jesus Christ!" in a manner which might have been interpreted as an expletive, but which seemed to uplift these two missionaries, for it is their favourite topic. They leapt in excitedly, trying to engage us in preaching and the answering of any questions we might have. I was with my wife and had no time for disputation with such parasites, so I explained that life without Jesus Christ gives me freedom and nothing would persuade me to trade it in. We moved on, evil thus warded off.

My wife told me they were certainly Latter-Day Saints.

Chris Almond said...

your comment made me laugh. yes, those definitely sound like mormon missionaries. I was one once. in Toronto Canada. I had been meaning to reply to your other comments but I was fairly under the weather for about a week and never got around to it. I still intend to. Lets see if I ever really do.