I think that most of us like to imagine that when we’re faced with the choice of doing what is right, taking a stand on the important issue of our time even when no one around us is standing, that we’ll be on the right side of history. But the reality is that throughout history, most people choose comfort and social acceptance instead of taking a stand. Most people don’t act until there is a critical mass so that to stand no longer means standing alone, and some still cling to the comfort of the past and tradition even after history has passed them by.
We smugly look at history’s past sins and proclaim that if we had been there, we would have done the right thing, but would we have? It’s easy to say we’d do the right thing when everyone agrees with us now, but social pressure isn’t easy to stand against, and going against what you’ve been taught all your life is easier said than done.
I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot, but I’m not sure how to tell if there’s some sort of massive historical/cultural blind spot that I’m missing. How do you step outside of your culture enough to be able to see whether you’re helping to perpetuate injustice? How can we be sure that our grandchildren won’t look back on our time and be appalled at some great injustice that we completely missed?