The Real Reason Why People Do Bad Things: Is it Really Our Fault?

May 25, 2016
By HJuliette SILVER, Hubert, North Carolina
HJuliette SILVER, Hubert, North Carolina
7 articles 3 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is sometimes a struggle, and sometimes not. You learn to endure the hardships and be happy anyways. Take every ounce of joy as gold, for it only lasts a moment. Focus on the positive. And most importantly, SMILE.
-Heather Frazier (me)

In the world today, society influences practically our every move. From the moment we are born, we are taught to obey all authority, no matter what. We feel pressure to conform to tradition and to be the same as every other person and to be the same as all of our predecessors, to except change in the norm, but not to make those changes ourselves. Is this thinking dangerous? Are we numbing ourselves to the senses that tell us to speak up, are we quieting every urge to be the people we truly are and believe and act as we wish? Should we be following every urge to conform and not speaking for change?  Even when we are pressured to do what we know it is wrong? That is the true question.

People like to fit in and be like others in order to be liked, to be popular. Society sets an example of what is acceptable and what is not, and we choose to follow those rules. We never even question who made the rules, or why we follow them. Maybe it's because we need order, mind-numbing rules to follow. When do rules become pointless? When does the making of law become less about withholding order, and more about controlling lives? Mankind chooses to follow every other human, even when they are not doing things that are considered moral. Our morals have been building, forming, changing, since the moment we are born. When we learn to speak, we learn what we should say and should not say. When we learn to walk we learn good places to go, and bad places to go. When we learn to love, we learn what people are dangerous to love, who is safe and who is not. Yet, when placed in a situation where your friends, family, or the "cool" people are doing something, you follow. Playing follow the leader as a child, who was in charge? The majority of children are taught to follow, since there may only be one leader. This basic principle is what your brain falls back on when in the situation of immorality, you follow. For example, in Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, every citizen in Maycomb County, except for a select few, punished an innocent man simply because he was African-American. This is because society told them a white man's word is much more dependable, even a white man as vile as Bob Ewell. Atticus Finch decided one day that this was wrong. After having children, he decided to teach them what racism was and prove that it was wrong, and prejudice was evil thinking. In the end Atticus was seen as a good person in the hearts of people, but in their words they rejected the idea that a white man may take a black man's word over a fellow white man's. His children were almost killed by Bob Ewell simply because Atticus proved a man innocent, even if he was convicted as guilty. The world needs more people like Atticus finch to teach the uncorrupted generation to be moral. The world needs to not only acknowledge society's faults, but to educate others about them, and to stand up and change them. Another factor that plays into the pressures of the world is authority.

We have people surrounding us of higher status, rank, and employment. In everyday life we are surrounded by multiple authorities and generally we choose to do as we are told like good citizens. As children we are to obey our parents, as employees we obey our managers and supervisors, as law-abiding citizens we are taught to follow the law. Not every case is so seemingly honorable. The Nazi's followed under Hitler's authority and killed millions of innocent Jews. For years people in the United States tore African's away from their homes and families and forced them to work there land. The slaves obeyed and society never even blinked until hundreds of years of continued slavery. It was not only America but every country they weren't taking slaves from. If they have been told, people will abuse other people, take their rights, and even go as far as murder. Simply because someone said to. An experiment called The Milgram Experiment was conducted by Stanley Milgram in 1963. The experiment container three people. A person of authority, a victim, and the person causing harm. The volunteers were told to given an electric shock of certain voltage for every wrong answer to the question. The voltage increased until deadly. The experiment was fake, there was no real electric shock, but it was to show that people will go as far as to kill a person simply because they were told. They were told to proceed with the experiment four times until they refused. The majority of the people reached the voltage before deadly, ad a small (but significant) percent actually pressed the switch to result in death. Tis experiment proved that people will do horrible things to one another when told to. We are afraid of the consequences of saying something is wrong. When you tell a person that they are bad for doing something, they’re going to try to cover up and make you feel like the bad guy. We never stop to question whether what we are told to do is ok, but we do it because we are told to. Authority is not always sound, and neither are our traditions.

We believe in religions that are ancient. We have done things are certain way for thousands of years. We are good, faithful people, right? Yet, in some traditions, some ancient cultures, it is believed that murder is justified. That people being killed for every wrong action and accusation is ok. That stoning people to death as a permanent punish for simple slip ups was the right thing to do. To blindly follow our tradition without finding fault is not safe. It was never right to kill a person for being imperfect. For not obeying every command. Rebellion is an instinct, not a flaw. We are given these feelings to protect ourselves from being hurt. In a very popular short story known as The Lottery, people in a town draw slips of papers from an old box. One slip of paper has a black dot. The person that draws it gets stoned. To death. For no reason whatsoever, simply to keep tradition. This tradition is blindly followed. The one woman in the story who drew the unlucky slip was actually late to the lottery. She was casting it off as unimportant. She spoke up against this blind killing, yet no one stood behind her. She was killed, stoned by her own friends, her own family and children threw stones at her. This is why people are quiet.

We are filled with an unconscious fear. That is why we are blindly following society, we are afraid of ridicule, afraid someone will silence us. That is why we obey authority, to avoid punishment. We follow tradition easily because we are afraid of change. The solution is courage. If we stand up to people that are hurting other, that is enough. If we stand behind people that stand for change, that is enough. It is greatest, however; to stand up yourself, to take a deep breath and speak. Ask the questions, do not condone the impurities of society, tradition, and authority. Speak for change when it needs spoken for. We are not a perfect country, a free country, not truly, and what are we willing to do about it? Courage is a strong word, a thing not easy to have, to share, or to regain. Once we are silenced once, we must yell again. Once we are ridiculed we must keep walking on the path we have created.

The author's comments:

We had to write this essay for an Eanglish assignment once, and my teacher said it was the best in the class. I agree with everything I said in this essay, however; I do not condone crime, I'm just helping find reasons for it.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.

MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!