Motives Influence Behavior
For the sake of ending genocide let’s look at all of humanity with open minds and forgiving hearts. Let’s forget about the destruction it’s caused for a moment and look at life from a different perspective. We all have creeds and codes that we live by that have been ingrained in us for better or for worse. Sometimes people make decisions without realizing the full impact of their choices. Sometimes people make decisions because it’s the way they’ve learned to do things from their family, friends, peers, etc. Sometimes people make decisions because they’re protecting themselves and/or their families. If you listen to peoples stories, consider the struggles they’ve endured, the way they were raised, and the environments they grew up in, you’ll realize that most people mean well. There are definitely people out there that make decisions without caring about how their actions affect anyone else, but let’s give them a chance to learn better now.
In the streets and in prison people die over their word. If you don’t do something that you say you’re going to do, you can get killed or hurt for it. Sometimes the lives of family members are threatened. Your word is your bond and so you better be prepared for the repercussions of you actions if you don’t follow through with your word.
Prisons are corrupt. Not everyone in or working for the prison industry is corrupt, but overall the system is broken. The prison environment is supposed to rehabilitate those in them so that they don’t want to come back and as a way to prevent future crime. Prison is not supposed to be a vacation but it’s not supposed to have inhumane conditions either. People are going to do what they can and think is right as a way to survive.
Ending genocide starts at home. If we can’t be honest with ourselves about our own mistakes and how they’ve affected the world then how can we expect other people to?
Genocide is a sociological phenomenon that has been happening for centuries, not only in Africa but also around the world. Although it’s been happening for a long time, the study of genocide is still fairly new. Sociology and psychology had already been around as academic disciplines, but it wasn’t until after Lemkin coined the term genocide in 1944 that there were formal studies on it. Ignoring the Ovaherero and Nama genocide almost two decades before it, it was only after the public publicized Holocaust that several scholars in different fields such as history, sociology, psychology, and political science as well as human rights groups and peace activists made efforts to understanding the root causes to genocide.
It takes more than one or two people to kill, injure, or abuse thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of people. On a macro-level, there are political, governmental, and economical factors that have historically influenced us over time. There are high-level perpetrators that have structured the ideologies and polices behind genocidal practices and the middleman bureaucrats that have made them possible. On a micro-level, there are the lower level perpetrators such as soldiers, police, other militia, and citizens that have engaged in them. While most of us probably won’t, and hopefully won’t, engage in genocidal practices, it’s important to understand that we all have the capacity to behave sadistically towards others. On the other end, we all have the capacity to be behave humanely. Understanding the psychological aspects of genocidal behavior gives us reasoning to how humans can commit to becoming malicious towards one another and what we can do to promote moral behavior.