The Human Propensity to Practice the Banality of Evil

This is a great article. I am on the Board of an HOA,

I know I know the most thankless job on the planet.

But right now we are in an election cycle, with an opposition that is blaming the current board for the suffering of the pandemic.

Specifically, we had to close the pools early last fall, because of the pandemic and the users of the pools not following pandemic guidelines.

So an issue fell into the hands of divisive homeowners, who are. blatantly using the “pool issue” which is really a non issue (we always close the pools during the late fall and winter because it is too cold to swim).

But that “issue” has been grabbed by people looking for an issue to serve their selfish and hidden motivations. Specifically one of the board members got told no to an “improvement” on her home that blatantly broke CC and Rs. She is now using pool rules, caused by the pandemic, to gain power. She is using the anger and frustration that the pandemic caused for revenge. And she probably will win.

This happens all the time in a HOA, but during a pandemic it provided lots more motivation to gripe about well, everything, including closing the pools to save lives. People are still in a foul mood so to speak no matter how optimistic things are finally appearing thanks to the vaccine and the beginning of “herd immunity”.

We had to close the work out rooms, even the tennis courts, as the pandemic roared through the county.

And we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that our efforts, which were in compliance with country guidelines, were justified. One fact for sure, nobody has died yet.

This is going on all over the place. It conditions the politics at every level, causing chaos in America’s reaction to a killer virus.

Trump, who had no idea what he was doing, even suggested injecting chloride to fight the virus, or light injections into the body with small cameras.

Finally, the pandemic showed in vivid detail the failures of America; a public health care system that conservatives dismantled years ago, a health care system whose unfairness and yes racism was again shown to us all by the pandemic and the failure of our divided political system that long ago stopped fairly dealing with social and economic issues.

Reform is happening right now which is good. The virus taught us once again we are mortal and susceptible to age old threats no matter how many technologies we own. We learned that the racial divide is much deeper than we thought (for those who care).

And we learned that panic and political opportunism thrive in the minds of human beings during and after a crisis. It is a cunning political opportunist’s dream.

Churchill was famous from WWII. He rose to power because of the lack of success in stopping Hitler with appeasement.

And that legendary effort to somehow stop the horrors of Fascism against all odds, earned Churchill eternal respect and honors, but lasted exactly 11 months!

In. 1946 or so, Churchill was turned out by the electorate because of the damage the war had done to England. He went from Hero to villain in one election cycle.

Roosevelt who did the same patriotic thing for the USA, mobilizing a nation in record time to win the war, died of the stress it caused, leaving a clueless Vice President to end the war. It was one more election cycle and the Democrats (the war winning party) were turned out and a Republican war hero elected, with the New Deal attacked and ended years later.

In short, victory in war or against a pandemic is not always rewarded, in fact it is punished.

And therein lies the lessons of mankind, human behavior is predictable. Backlash to tragedy often seeks out the very people who helped end the tragedy for the very opposite of a parade; rather a orgy of recrimination.

Right now a similar thing is happening in our community, because of the pandemic that altered people’s lives they are looking for a scapegoat, and that is being used by political opportunists to upend democracy itself.

Trump tried that himself, forgetting that his administration was to blame for the poor reaction to the pandemic and in real time, not in later knee jerk reaction, the chickens came home to roost.

I made this same argument just yesterday at a candidates forum and gained utterly nothing.

People need someone to blame who is close to them. Without historical knowledge, most are getting their information from social media, the mistakes and poor decisions that you would think would end after the danger subsided, only increases the looking for someone to blame. So quickly does the public forget the ineptitude of the Trump administration in the wake of Biden’s success in finally using common sense pandemic principles, plus a vaccination effort in record time, to finally end the agony.

Ominously the House of Representatives actually lost seats for the “pandemic rules” party, showing the same kind of unfair reaction once the crisis ebbs that afflicted Churchill in 1946.

“The Ox Bow Incident” deals with this mob rule, that disregards reason in a hotbed of reactionary behavior that in this case killed innocent people. That is the very threat that the world will now face for decades.

And it is starting again right now, the blame game, that will I predict will continue to destroy the law and government for years in retaliation for discomfort. In many ways the Spanish Flu of 1919 helped cause the world wide depression that fed Hitler’s rise to power.

It happened to Churchill and it will happen again and again.

In short, the human banality of evil.

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Greg Beale

Stanford grad, BA Political Science, MA from Sac State in Government. 36 years in public education as teacher, coach, athletic director, and administrator.