Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pondering Hitler and Human Nature

This man, Hitler, has come to stand for the personification of evil, the worst of the worst, and rightly so considering he was responsible for an inordinate amount of pain and suffering.  I wonder though, did he think that he was doing evil deeds?  Did he believe that he was an evil man?  Or did he think he was doing good deeds?  Did he believe that he was a good man taking the necessary steps for the greater good of humanity?  (And if he did think he was doing good, if he thought he was a good man; he must have some extreme rationalizing skills.)  Does anyone in this world decide that they’re going to be an evil bastard hell bent on doing as many cruel things to harm others as much as they possibly can?  Does anyone set out as their life mission to do their best to be malevolent and hateful?  Or are people labeled as “evil” simply misguided beings thinking that they are workers of good, letting the intended results of their behaviors obscure the means by which they attain those results? 

These matters are tricky because (in an obvious statement of reality) it’s difficult to know for certain what’s exactly happening inside the mind of others.  We do our best to figure it out by making conjectures and hypotheses based on the internal investigation of self and the external observation of others, but even then we’re ultimately guessing, no matter how strong that guess may be.

And to take this pondering in a somewhat different direction, what if we were to use a time machine and visit baby Hitler?  What would be the proper way to approach an innocent little baby that would go onto to become a villain to humanity?  Should we pull a Minority Report and convict him before he commits his crimes?  Or should we take it upon ourselves to try to teach baby Hitler a different way, an alternative lifestyle based on the principles of love and kindness?  How far can teaching go?  Was it written into his DNA to become a diabolical force regardless of circumstance?


  1. If you went back and changed baby Hitler would you see your self as doing "good"?

  2. Well I suppose the "goodness" of my actions ultimately depends on perspective. I'm guessing that most German Jews in the 1940s would appreciate someone changing Hitler's mindset.