The banality of evil & how it relates to youth in 2017


“To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he´s doing is good, or else that it´s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law”

Ta-Nehisi Coates in his book Between the World and Me

Every generation has been concerned about their youth. However, the world has been changing at a rapid pace and we have to worry even more about our youth. But why? Because if we don´t give them the tools to think forward, to take responsibility for what they can do today for a better future, we could all be facing strong economic, social and environmental consequences.

According to the oxford dictionary, apathy means: Lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Apathy is precisely what we see in a lot of our youth these days. We also see a lack of trust in government, authorities, institutions and we see them trying to find meaning in their lives, in what they do, but we find them feeling distant from what goes on in the world. They´re right not to trust corrupt leaders and institutions but we can´t distance ourselves from the responsibility that each of us has in relation to what goes on in our communities.

Philosopher Hannah Arendt, author of the concept “the banality of evil”, explained through that idea that “most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or bad.” Her work was a deep observation into the humanity of a man responsible for terrible acts during the holocaust. Now, I´m not trying to say our youth are evil. However, what I´m saying is that as observed by Arendt fifty years ago, human beings who refuse to think, who refuse to dig deep and make a moral judgment, who pretend to think they are unable to tell right from wrong are giving up their consciousness for others and this “lies at the heat of all evil because it then becomes an excuse, a mechanism to relieve you from the consequences.”

To this day, the “banality of evil” can apply to all of our society . Arendt suggests that human beings have the ability to see things as “normal” if repeated enough times -slavery, homelessness, widespread malnutrition, discrimination, killings, crime – until something happens or someone pushes us to see that one or more of these things are unjust. And, even then, a lot of evil has been done in the name of good. Everyone, even youth must work on our own moral compass, our own moral reason so that we don´t give up are consciousness for anyone.

But what does being responsible for what we do mean? Being responsible means to acknowledge our participation in everything that happens in the world. Realizing that we are all interconnected and that what we do affects everyone else, even if it´s just in a small way. It´s not about having the “fault” or pointing fingers towards our parents, school, government,  but to allow ourselves to realise that there is always something we can do for the world to be a better place for everyone.