Normal and Patriotic People

The vast majority of Germans who supported Nazism considered themselves to be very normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

The vast majority of Americans who supported the genocide of indigenous peoples considered themselves to be normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

The vast majority of Americans who supported slavery considered themselves to be normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

The vast majority of Americans who supported the segregation and oppression of Jim Crow considered themselves to be normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

The vast majority of Americans who supported the detention of Japanese Americans during World War II considered themselves to be normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

The vast majority of Americans who support travel bans and other restrictions on persons who are Muslim consider themselves to be normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

The vast majority of Americans who support rejecting refugees and asylum seekers consider themselves to be normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

The vast majority of Americans who support separating children from their parents at our borders and putting them in detention camps consider themselves to be normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

The vast majority of Americans who are against taking action to address climate change and other urgent ecological challenges consider themselves to be normal and patriotic people and good Christians.

Many of the great evils in our history and our present are made possible not by persons who see themselves as being evil, but by the actions or inaction of persons who feel they are very normal and patriotic and who often also see themselves as good Christians.

Many of the greatest perpetrators of evil in our past and present count on people who see themselves as normal and patriotic people who often consider themselves to be good Christians for support.

The longer the great perpetrators of evil can convince their supporters that they are normal and patriotic people and even good Christians, the longer they can perpetrate evil.

The great perpetrators of evil in the past and present are often masters of making their evil seem normal and patriotic and “Christian” or whatever the religion of the majority might be. This is what Hannah Arendt was getting at when she described the “banality of evil.” Much of the mechanics of evil in the world are not made possible by blatantly evil monsters but rather by ordinary and seemingly very normal people.

This is why persons who have considered themselves normal and patriotic people and good Christians have often been accomplices to some of the most horrific evils ever experienced in human history.

We are, however, not without hope, for many normal and patriotic people, both Christian and those who orient themselves to religion differently, are also capable of seeing that there is nothing normal, patriotic, or “Christian” about these evils.

The time is now for these normal, patriotic, and good people to take a stand and not let the evils of our past continue to be evils of our present and future. There is not a hero out there upon which we can depend to stop this. We must become heroes of goodness justice for each other.

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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