This blog post is taking material from “‘If I look at the mass I will never act’: Psychic numbing and genocide” written by Paul Slovic and published by Judgement and Decision Making, Vol. 2, No. 2, in April 2007.
In my past blog posts, I’ve touched on needing to inform ourselves so that we can be better prepared to act. However, information alone isn’t enough. “Without affect, information lacks meaning and won’t be used in judgement and decision making”. The article explains how when the Holocaust ended, we told ourselves, “this will never happen again. We won’t let it happen again.” And yet, to this day, we are still seeing multiple examples of where genocide is still taking place. Why is that? We have the available resources today to inform ourselves on what is happening all over the world, and yet we still aren’t doing much. The article says that “the statistics of mass murder or genocide, no matter how large the numbers, fail to convey the true meaning of such atrocities. The numbers fail to spark emotion or feel and thus fail to motivate action”. If I went on Google right now, I could easily find a number that reflects the amount of people who died in the Rwandan genocide. However, a number is not a story, and without any emotion attached, many have a hard time reaching out. So what should we do about this? Well, there are some ways to go out and experience a wide array of culture right in your hometown. Go volunteer at a refugee center, talk to the people, hear their stories, be reminded of their humanity. We will never grow or change if we don’t leave our own personal bubble. Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t enough to make people want to help. So go out, and find the stories. They will change you and will make you eager to influence change.