"I was only
following orders" is referred to as the "Nuremberg
Defense", and it is nothing less than blind obedience to authority.
Blind obedience to authority is what you do when you think laws should
be obeyed just because the law exists. Such indiscriminate
failure to think about your actions "because
we've always done it this way"; "because my boss said so"; "because it's the law"; "because I was only following orders"
will lead you to do morally corrupt acts. You will do these acts
believing that you are doing nothing wrong because you are following
The Devil’s Right Hand
by Larken Rose
What does the Devil's right hand look like?
I don't mean this to be particularly
religious or biblical; I just want to know, whatever "evil" is, what is
the main mechanism by which it is served? Adolph Hitler? Stalin?
Charles Manson? Jeffrey Dahmer? The Columbine shooters?
Nope. Not even close.
Let's get out the score card. How many
people did Manson, Dahmer, and the Columbine shooters kill? A few
dozen, at most. I don't mean to downplay the horrible nature of
their atrocities, but on a purely statistical level, they hardly
register on the big scheme of things.
"Oooo, oooo, I know! Stalin, Mao, and
Actually, no. How many people actually
died at the hands of those individuals? Not very many (again, in the
big scheme of things). "Well, maybe they didn't do the actual killing,
but they orchestrated mass murder!" True. And what was their
The true threat to humanity are not the
Hitlers, the Dahmers, and the Mansons. Those who have a view of reality
that twisted--those who have no regard for human life, or even delight
in the suffering or death of others--are few and far between.
They are outnumbered (and perhaps more importantly, out-gunned) at
least a million to one.
No, as disturbing as the occasional
psychotic, sadistic murderer is, that is NOT what society needs to
worry about. Let's look at the other column on the score card. The
grand total is in the hundreds of millions of human beings tortured and
murdered. And who is responsible? Who accomplished atrocities way
beyond what the famous mass-murders accomplished?
Average, generally decent human beings,
who did the wrong thing BECAUSE SOMEONE IN “AUTHORITY” TOLD THEM TO.
They are the Devil's Right Hand. Remove that blind obedience to
imagined "authority"--just getting those people to use their OWN
judgment instead of following someone else's--and you remove 99%
of murder from the earth.
Your neighbor is the implementer of evil.
Yeah, that nice guy who helped you
jump-start your car last week. Yeah, the one with the three kids,
who is such a great dad. That's the one. That's the Devil's right
Know your enemy. Your enemy is not
Darth Vader, or Sauron, or Dr. Evil. Your enemy is that "nice guy" next
door. If you want to see just how scary he really is, I highly
recommend a book titled "Obedience to Authority," which is a detailed
psychological study by Stanley Milgram
(done back in the 1960's). I'll let the book give you all the gruesome
details, but the punch line is this: the vast majority of your
neighbors will KNOWINGLY INFLICT PAIN AND SUFFERING ON YOU, if someone
they perceive as "authority" tells them to.
They take no responsibility for their
actions, they avoid original thought like the plague, and they are
immune to any evidence or logic which goes against what their bosses
are telling them to do. In short, they are the Devil's right hand.