Have you ever been in a classroom where the teacher asked a simple yes or no question, and to answer, all you have to do is raise your hand or keep it down? I have, and I wasn’t always honest when I answered. I didn’t want to identify myself to my teacher or my peers. I even found myself hesitating and searching the room for someone to answer first, or even waiting for the majority to answer before raising my hand. Believe it or not, that’s normal; we’re in a society that raised us to be an “us.” People don’t like different, instead we like connecting with people on a basis of familiarity, sharing humor, food, and experiences. It’s no mistake that when we dislike someone we start picking at their traits, habits, or almost anything they do or have done. We are systematically differentiating them from ourselves, trying to assert that we are somehow different from those we deem bad.
Going back to the classroom analogy, it seems downright silly to have lied about something in such a protected learning environment. Yet its easy to understand why; no one wants to be the outcast (excluding those that always wanted attention in elementary school). In Genocide, the denial is apparent in the faces of those that insist on replying with the simple “not me.” But history is far from only including people with squeaky clean lives, like U.S. Presidents Donald Trump, Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln and businessman Henry Ford. Henry Ford, known for perfecting the usage of the assembly line and founder of Ford Motors was anti-Semitic even supporting Hitler’s work in Mein Kampf. Woodrow Wilson continued to support apartheid culture in the United States, while Abraham Lincoln in no way believed Africans were near the mental capacity of Caucasians. We wouldn’t want to upset people by showing them what their role models once did or believed, but who would admit to ever liking them if they knew their character in the fullest degree? Anyone that has used a President as a role model for a school project probably wouldn’t be too excited to admit they once idealized them as a perfect role model for themselves.
Humans are a complex species that seems to keep fighting over something no one can prove or disprove, the existence, or correct code of conduct for God. ISIS is still killing, raping, and displacing Christians as well as Shiites and Yazidis for immoral beliefs as compared to their own, and ongoing genocide. America likes to make itself look like a country that supports human rights, but only gets involved when events affect it directly. That is the danger with Genocides, the “not me” also refers to people saying, if it’s not affecting me then I don’t need to concern myself. It’s as easy as turning a blind eye, or ignoring the cries for help when a young black man is forcefully shoved into a brick wall despite complying completely with the police officer’s orders. And in this specific scenario, if the officer pretends well enough that the accused is putting up a fight, he can justify his actions and still, passersby won’t intervene.
I loved Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as a kid. Until Gene Wilder’s passing, I had no desire to watch it again. The entire idea of the movie centers on Charlie having a different motivation for wanting to see the factory. In the end he didn’t win and so he returns the gobstopper, which in turn provides the right response for Willy Wonka, as he was searching for his next heir to the chocolate throne. As this movie turns out, most adults and other children are just as we expected, selfishly motivated and uncaring towards others. It’s a hard lesson, but one we may be able to learn and overcome with time and patience. Why people hate others for being or thinking differently is a problem we haven’t solved in all of our histories. But we have no time to waste; no earthy way of knowing what might happen if we don’t try now. After all, a good deed can so shine in this weary world.
Jackie is currently attending Old Dominion University attaining an English B.A. with a focus in creative writing. She is interested in topics related to the study of law, ethics, human rights and social norms.