In my social psychology class, I came across the word deindividuation, a mouthful yeah? It is defined as …
Immersion in a group to the point that one loses a sense of self-awareness and feels lessened responsibility for one’s actions.
And it hit me, this is the word I am trying to find to describe the atrocities committed in the countries where I used to work.
In Cambodia, a dark era came during the Pol Pot regime where people that are educated, monks, those wearing glasses, foreigners were all sent to their deaths and children were bashed on trees and buried in mass graves. I am sure you will remember the very touching movie “the Killing Fields” recounted by one of the survivor and refugee during those time.
In Sierra Leone, when local militia from another tribe funded by other countries started to rape women and mutilate people leaving behind a population of people without arms and legs, disfigured faces and torn emotions.
In North Korea, until now is still under the impression that the world hasn’t change and only their ideologies are what matters. No one has the courage to go against a regime where it’s easy to send you and your family to hard labor and torture, and still deny it happens.
In East Timor, after receiving their independence from 400 years of colonization was brutally invaded by neighboring Indonesia for 24 years killing people senselessly, by bringing people to cliff in the dead of the night saying they are being led to freedom, but instead they freefall in the pit of the highest cliff in Ainaro. While paving roads, building schools and employing medical professionals from Indonesia.
And even in my own country, the Philippines, insurgents are kidnapping, looting, killing innocents and declaring wars in peaceful fishing village.
I remember crying a river over the movie Hotel Rwanda and getting angry reading Shake Hands with the Devil because it’s very sad that those people have to suffer, to die and to those that survived to live to tell and relive the experience over and over again.
Those era may have passed in those countries, but is still happening in mine. One get to ask why are there people like them — heartless, devoid of emotion, pure evil? but I didn’t think there is an answer, or a name to call it until after one of our lecture. It explains that it only takes one person to incite hate on others and the mob will follow without thinking, would be in a state where they remove their individuality and commit those atrocities.
And in spite of the supposed advent of “technology” and “modernization” still the same situation is happening over and over again in countries where there are group of people that are in the state of deindividuation, who still chooses to terrorize innocents and claim their actions to be blessed by their gods. Take the case of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Ukraine etc. How do you counter that without resorting to force? without retaliating? without showing whose mightier? If that happens, then history is repeating itself — more lives are displaced, more wounded, more dead.
My faith taught me to love one another, to do what you want others to do to you – as a golden rule. My family instill in me values I carried working as an aid worker, to be tolerant, accepting and helpful. To be patient and to be open to new ideas. Personally I learned over the years that everything can be resolved by dialogue and that between fighting forces, the people, mostly the innocents are the losers. All that I carry with me while doing the work I like doing the best I can.
WITH THIS BLOG, I EXPRESS MY CONDEMNATION OF THE SENSELESS KILLING OF DAVID HAINES, A HUMANITARIAN AID WORKER AND ALL THE OTHERS KILLED IN SIMILAR MANNER WHILE BRINGING HOPE TO THE PEOPLE THEY ARE HELPING.