New Ethical Post

My latest post was about a village where quite a number of people had taken it on themselves to hide Jews, and thus save them, although their lives were at stake. In occupied France during WWII, they probably risked being shot (as a deterrent), being sent to jail and/or being deported.

One of my favorite bloggers commented on this post wondering “how common it was to have a cluster of Righteous individuals living in one place? In other words, did more of the Righteous come from places where their neighbors also saved Jews? Or were most Righteous individuals the only ones in their areas helping Jews?”

Her question led me to ask myself whether people (including myself) are more likely to behave morally if they neighbors/friends act ethically or whether they would do so whatever the circumstances.

I have a few ideas on this issue but would love to read what you think before sharing my own thoughts.

12 thoughts on “New Ethical Post

  1. This is sure a thought provoking post for me, Ilana. I am just fresh off watching “The Pianist” over the weekend and this question has been on my mind since. I was shocked yet again by the imagery. I am not sure what I would do in this situation to be honest. Although, seeing children starving and people getting shot in the head was really hard on me. I would hope that I would man-up and do what’s right under these horrendous circumstances. However, I am not faulting those who chose to do nothing even though they knew what was happening was reprehensible. That had to be a scary time and self preservation was probably the deciding factor. It was an awful time and just plain heartbreaking for me.

  2. Nice photo…and with your post, it could evoke mystery within the setting.

    I would like to think I would do the right thing, would be ethical and that my humaneness would be passionate and reflective enough to help others, regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

  3. Not sure what I’d do. I think it matters how well I know the people and what I have to lose. I also hope I never end up in a situation where I’d have to make such a choice.

  4. Think of the Biblical Noah or Samson (his father was Manoah) and family. They were considered great for their time, but most people are easily influenced by others. So if they fear their neighbors, it’s much harder and they wouldn’t even try.

  5. What a fantastic question. I’d like to think that good behavior is contagious, and that being a good neighbor would rub off on people.

    I know that my friends who I consider to be a good influence inspire me to try and behave better, and my friends who have, shall we say, fewer positive traits sometimes bring out parts of myself I’d rather not see so often.

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  7. I have to agree with Batya, Noah was the first person to come to mind. I also think of the term ‘mob mentality’. It’s easier to act unethically when it’s the accepted norm.

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  9. “What a fantastic question. I’d like to think that good behavior is contagious, and that being a good neighbor would rub off on people.”

    Rivki’s statement reminds me of a story that perhaps illustrates the point. I have heard of a town in Germany from which a number of Jewish men were rounded up by the Gestapo and taken to a camp. Their wives were non-Jews, and were therefore left alone. The women banded together, quite a number of them, and demanded that their husbands be returned to them. This saved the men’s lives.

    A bit of a sad reminder that had more people stood up en masse and objected, perhaps many fewer human lives would have been extinguished.

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