It's funny what power there is in symbols, isn't it? When I saw the film O Brother Where Art Thou for the first time, the scene with the flaming cross sent shivers down my spine. The fictional parallel of the Death Eaters in the Harry Potter books made more sense to me than ever. And chances are, even seeing this swastika on my blog shocked you.
The reason I've got this particular symbol on my mind is that last night I got to thinking about a friend of mine. He's very tall, strong, with blond hair and blue eyes. He's intelligent, confident, a good leader and a political thinker. He's fiercely devoted to his country and believes in fighting for a greater cause. Another time, another place, who knows what he could have become? How quickly he could have risen through the ranks?
I'm not saying this to indicate that I think any less of him after this realisation. I still love the boy for all I'm worth. It just made me think that maybe the line between 'good' and 'bad' people isn't as solid as we like to think. After all, murderers and rapists are as human as the rest of us; a fact we all like to ignore whenever possible. Is it unreasonable to suggest that, in different circumstances, we might have made the same choices as these people? You might argue that some people are inherently bad, in which case there must have been a lot of inherently bad people around in Nazi Germany.
This reminds me of the time my history teacher told me about an experiment carried out where people would be asked to deliver increasing electric shocks to people every time they made a mistake. It wasn't really a person being shocked, just a tape player making scream sounds, but the study found that almost everyone would keep going until the 'person' died. Because men in white coats told them to.