Gourevitch and Milgram have presented their accounts on what may warrant a person to engage in immoral behavior. According to Gourevitch’s book, his primary concern is about the incidences that occurred in Rwanda when the Rwandan government passed a policy that requested every person in the Hutu community to murder every person belonging to the Tutsi community. Although the murder cases were low tech since they did not use high-profile weapons, they were carried out at a fast rate using machetes, an aspect that resulted in the death of approximately 800,000 individuals (Gourevitch, 2015). The accounts given by Gourevitch offer a vivid description of how some people may engage in immoral behaviors to satisfy their needs and desires. Gourevitch offers a narrative of the tragedy and an unforgettable account of what followed after the mass killings from these two communities (Gourevitch, 2015). Some of the aspects that followed after the murders included displacement of a large section of the Tutsis, temptations to carry out revenge, and the plight to get justice among the survivors from the tragedy.
One of the primary factors that may have prompted the Hutus to engage in the immoral behavior of killing the Tutsi was the hatred they had against them. The Hutus and the Tutsis have very many aspects in common, including their identities, language, and cultural practices (Gourevitch, 2015). However, the hatred which was linked to economic issues prompted the Hutus to wideout a large section of the Tutsi. Since the Hutus were the majority while Hutus were a minority group, the Hutus believed that they were more superior to their counterparts; thus, the Tutsi’s economic prosperity prompted the emergence of hatred (Gourevitch, 2015). Gourevitch also offers a detailed description of how immoral behaviors can result in the deterioration of the well-being of the concerned individuals. According to Gourevitch, most of the survivors were treated, lived under unbearable conditions, and even resorted to escaping from the Hutus. Subsequently, a large section of the Tutsis lost their while as they watched. Although the genocide came to an end, the post experiences included most survivors living under threats and danger that they may be killed by the Hutus if a similar war emerged.
After the genocide, most survivors yearned to get justice, an aspect that they have failed to achieve. As a result, most Rwandans still anguish in new ways of deciding how people who have suffered from the genocide can live peacefully with the others in a single cohesive society with those who inflicted pain in them (Gourevitch, 2015). Based on the events that occurred in Rwanda, Gourevitch shows how differences among individuals may predispose one into engaging in immoral behavior.
In the second article by Milgram on the “Behavioural study of obedience,” the author also used a different account to indicate how some individuals may choose to engage in criminal behavior. Milgram mainly focused his experiment on the conflict that exists between authority and personal conscience. In his experiment, Milgram mainly strived to examine the justifications individuals had to offer after being accused of committing genocide acts during the Second World War (Milgram, 1963). According to the findings from Milgram, most of the individuals gave the primary defense that they were following orders that had been given by their superiors. Milgram named this defense mechanism “obedience.” According to Milgram’s experiment, he was mainly concerned with understanding the extent to which one would go as far as obeying an instruction given even if it involved harming another person (Milgram, 1963). Sixty-five percent of participants in the study suggested that they mainly reported that they always obeyed orders given by their superiors, an aspect that may have predisposed them into engaging in immoral behaviors.
According to the article by Milgram, obedience is a universal element of nature that exists in every human being; however, this critical element has been overshadowed by various aspects related to conformity. Milgram suggests in his article that although obedience is a powerful aspect in the life of an individual, most people often emphasize in their priorities an aspect that predisposes them into engaging in immoral behavior (Milgram, 1963).
Milgram’s experiment is of importance since it helps explain what happened in the Rwandan Genocide. In the Rwandan genocide, most people followed orders that were given by their superiors, an aspect that resulted in the massacre of a large section of the Tutsis. In this case, it presents how ordinary people are more likely to follow instructions given by the authoritative figures even if it may harm someone or take away innocent lives. One aspect that may contribute to the occurrence of these aspects is that obedience is an aspect that is ingrained in all of us depending on how we have been brought up. Most individuals tend to obey orders from individuals, especially if they recognize that the authority is morally right or legally based. The extreme willingness that adults may go to inflict pain on people is the primary finding, according to Milgram, and this needs an urgent explanation.
Authors in the two articles present different ideas concerning how evil acts gradually become commonplace ad become accepted in our societies. In Gourevitch’s article, evil can become a common norm in our societies due to hatred that may arise from economic issues or race. The Hutus took away the lives of the Tutsis without thinking twice before acting. The Hutus and Tutsis had similar historical and cultural backgrounds; thus, their differences in race should not have warranted the emergence of immoral behavior. In Milgram’s article, obedience is an aspect that can also lead a person to commit immoral behavior. Since the authoritative figures are believed to be morally right, most adults do not question their instructions and go ahead into committing immoral acts. Having this in mind, most adults will always continue obeying instructions even if they are morally wrong, an aspect that may make evil be commonplace and accepted in our societies. If the Hutus could not obey the Rwandan government and questioned their policy, it would have helped save the lives of 800,000 Tutsis. Therefore, the authoritative figure is to blame for all the immoral activities that are conducted under duress. This is because they do not give room for questions from their subjects.
Gourevitch, P. (2015). We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families (Vol. 24). Pan Macmillan.
Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. The Journal of abnormal and social psychology, 67(4), 371.