Why do we Ignore what we Believe is Right?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke

There can be a lot of disagreement over what is right and wrong, it’s not my intent here to discuss what actions fall into each category.  I am curious about situations where people clearly, and knowingly, do something against what they believe to be right.  For example: Someone may think it’s a good idea to follow the speed limit, but they choose not to on occasion.  Or people who thinking that smoking is bad, but they are now addicted to smoking and have trouble quitting.  Given the current child abuse scandal, how did the adults at Penn State turn a blind eye on the horrible actions of “Jerry” Sandusky and let more children fall victim???

What really intrigues me are the situations where people do something they believe to be wrong, just because are likely to get away with it.  Again, the Sandusky situation which repeated itself because he felt protected in that environment.  What occurs in our way of thinking to make us choose the action we think is wrong?

  • Biological abnormalities aside, some people’s brains are just wired incorrectly.  The more we learn about identifying those abnormalities the better.
  • Do we believe it will help us more than hurting others, so there is a net benefit?
  • Are we operating based on a biological instinct to do anything that helps us as individuals, even if it hurts the group.  Do our actions have to be mutually exclusive?
  • Do we believe someone else is doing it, and so we are entitled to help ourselves in the same way?
  • I recently came across a scientist researching the brain and talking about why we lie, including how the brain lies to ourselves without us know.
  • I suspect it’s a combination of the biological, for each of us is susceptible to certain behavior just like some people become an alcoholic while others can drink every day and not become addicted, we all have a biological disposition to be affected by certain things.  And its laziness, it’s so easy for us to enjoy the comfort we are given (I did not fight in the revolution) and to continue to want more rather than use what we have to help everyone achieve a minimum quality of life.

If I go back to school, this is probably what I would study.