When I was little I REFUSED to take naps (hah how crazy was I). I wanted to be in on the fun and apart of whatever was happening. So my mom adopted a little trick on vacations to help with my stubborn attitude. When we were at the beach, I would always ask my mom what the airplanes that flew over the water said. She quickly convinced me that the sign behind the plane read “Megan it’s time to take your nap.” Of course I was naïve and believed that I was special enough to have an entire sign dedicated just to myself. My sheer acceptance of authority trumped all else. I didn’t have a doubt in my head that this may not be true and accepted it just because my mom told me so. While I have matured a little and realized my ignorance in this situation, I still find myself accepting different standards and rules just because someone with authority tells me to. No questions asked. No doubt about their intentions.
Our need to feel a sense of belonging often leads to an acceptance of authority. This acceptance provides those with authority even more power to accomplish their goal. Once they gain support by in group members, the speed of momentum builds and is hard to stop. People often join the momentum mindlessly because they want to be in the in group, once again reflecting our need to feel accepted and valued.
In reading about Rohingya genocide, I have come to realize this same acceptance of authority has provided the government with the power to initiate a mass extermination. Genocide often happens because no one challenges authority. If you challenge authority, you risk being thrown out of the in crowd, and may be subject to the same maltreatment.
In the article, There’s Only One Conclusion, the Buddhist monks claimed the Rohingya were reincarnated insects, justifying their extermination by calling it “pest control.” This was both shocking and disturbing. The article continued to shine light on the quick pace of their extermination. While genocide is planned and methodical, once momentum is gained the actual killing of the population can be rapid. Half of an entire population was wiped out in about eight weeks. This case with the Rohingya showed me power of fierce momentum.
Genocide occurs due to acceptance of authority, lack of critical thinking, and the inability to halt momentum. I think that we can help to stop the momentum of genocide by realizing our true value that we bring to the table and thinking for ourselves first. By valuing others needs before our own, there would more of a response of action to genocide because it would not matter if we were thrown into the outcast group. In order to stop the perpetual nature of genocides, we need to step out of the bystander role and into one of critical thinking and action based response, even if that means opposing authority.