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Brennan Furst

2/11/2013
WR 121
Vargas

The Cruelty of the Group vs the Nobility of the Individual


Humanity is a fickle race, in one hand we offer salvation, but with the other we strike
down those reaching for it. This duality of our society has caused more than enough strife in the
world and though many individuals are good and want to help others, it is when our race enters a
group that things become hostile. I would like to take this moment to point out that there are
groups of people that on a whole are good, but I believe that there are more groups that behave
maliciously towards others than there are examples of good ones. I, also, think that on an
individual level there are far more cases of a humans acting to better humanity as a whole than
there are individuals acting against it.
It is this contradictory behavior that defines our race. But is it contradictory? I dont think
so, I believe that outside of a group our high intelligence can direct our actions, but once inside a
group our more basic instincts take over and refuse to let us enjoy the differences of the world.
This base instinct helped us survive so much in the early years of our race after all, whether one
subscribes to millions of years of evolution, as I do, or in creationism, there is ample proof
within each. So I say, people are bad, but the person is good, meaning when we let our conscious
mind take the lead we are capable of achieving great acts of good, but we must first discover a
method of snuffing out this archaic instinct that different is bad.
Most often when we come together with a common cause we view any that do not
believe the same things that we do as threats to our way of life, without realizing that the two can
mutually exist. This inevitably leads to some form of conflict in which one of these groups
attempts to control or destroy the other. A prime example of two groups constantly maneuvering
to control or destroy the other is in religion or the lack thereof. In southern California, an Atheist
and Agnostic group petitioned to have a cross removed from a hilltop, citing that it was owned

Brennan Furst
2/11/2013
WR 121
Vargas

by the government and that religious symbols should not be on government property. This, of
course, caused an outcry within the Christian community who stated that it was a historical
monument and that removing it would deny others the right to see it. Thus began a classic bout
between two groups actively attempting to control each other, that ultimately ended with the
cross being moved to a private property owned by a local man of wealth.
We should begin with the bad news, so to speak, so that we may end on a good note.
Groups such as the Nazis, Imperial Japan, Jonestown, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), the
Ku Klux Klan, the Mafia, the Crips, and so many more are undoubtedly bad. But why? Certainly
it has something to do with their vehement intolerance of others, but it is more than not being
able to stomach another group. There is also the presence of activity against other groups, these
groups want to destroy the very things that they hate, some more subtly than others, but their
goals are the same.
Let us begin with political groups such as the Nazis and Imperial Japan. With the first
groups, their goals were obvious. Nazi Germany, and specifically the Nazi government, wanted
to eradicate all people they deemed unworthy of living in their ethnically pure world, most
famous of these ethnically deficient races were the Jews, but there were so many more that the
Nazis wanted to exterminate. If the Nazis had accomplished their goals there would only be
Aryans in Europe through Russia and down to Africa, eventually the whole world would be filled
with fair skinned, fair haired, and fair eyed people and all others would be dead, an incredibly
ambitious and insane plan, but that was the plan. We should be grateful that they failed and that
our differences include our physical appearances.
On the other side of the world, at the same time that the Nazis were terrorizing anyone
that looked too different, Imperial Japan was on a rampage through Asia in an effort to erase

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2/11/2013
WR 121
Vargas

their culture and had they succeeded we would not have the diversity of identity we do today.
The Japanese raped, killed, and burned their way through the nations that they were invading
because to them everyone else were just savages, not worthy of being treated with dignity, but in
time they would introduce civility to them. They behaved in a way not unlike early Americans
towards the natives and their neighbors. And we can be thankful that Imperial Japan failed in its
attempt to culturally purify the world.
These next groups are of a religious nature and represent the extremists that justify their
actions via religious texts or doctrine. There are far too many of these groups to cover in a single
essay, or even a single book, groups such as the WBC, Jonestown, and Al-Qaida standout among
them in modern society.
The WBC, one of the worlds foremost advocates of hatred, go so far as to protest burials.
They praise the death of those they deem corrupt such as soldiers, gays, Muslims, Jews, and even
other forms of Christianity. They claim that natural disasters are Gods fury coming to wipe away
the sins of mankind and are thankful when they hear of thousands dead due to them. For this
fringe group, they can only see, what they consider, the bad in everyone and will only be
satisfied by total submission to their strict and unforgiving creed. The Westboro Baptist Church
aims to cause discontent and unrest wherever they go, and they travel frequently.
Next is one of the most famous religious extremist cults, found at Jonestown, Guyana,
where hundreds of lives were taken in the course of an afternoon. The cult started off harmless
enough, as a group of Christians just wanted to live in a place where they would not be harassed
by others and as a community. This changed very quickly, as CNN recently pointed out in their
documentary on the place, when following the murder of an American congressman and four
others Pastor Jim Jones order his congregation to be administered cyanide in what he called a

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2/11/2013
WR 121
Vargas

revolutionary suicide. They started with the children, telling the parents that there would be no
suffering, but as survivors report this wasnt true and those that were administered the poison
were in terrible pain and many of the citizens of Jonestown that didnt want to do it were forcibly
injected with the cyanide. This event would go down as the largest loss of American life until the
attacks on September 11th, 2001 not caused by nature having killed 918 people. Jim Jones did
not take the poison, after seeing the agony it caused, he had one of his followers shoot him in the
head.
Now on to the good news, these tendencies are not often seen on the individual level.
Quite often a person will help another of a different creed without giving it much thought and
indeed these encounters are often very civil. To proof this out, simply go to a neighbors house
and ask to borrow a cup of sugar. I am sure that this neighbor will do one of two things; either
give you a cup of sugar, or let you know that they are out of sugar themselves. It is a harmless
request, but could allow the inquirer to finish a baking project, which would likely be for a small
gathering of people, and one of these people may have a good time while enjoying this party,
thus being more susceptible to generosity on their way home by giving a homeless person some
change, which in turn could help that person become the next neighbor you ask to borrow sugar
from.
From personal experience, there have been many selfless individuals that have helped
me. My neighbor Jeryn let me stay the night at his house once when my brothers flooded my
room after they had neglected to use the appropriate drainage hose on a washing machine. His
family is Mormon and I am an Agnostic, but it was without hesitation that they allowed me to
stay while my room was being dried.

Brennan Furst
2/11/2013
WR 121
Vargas

Another that helped me was Jill Pritchett, who took me in after I left my parents at the
age of fifteen. She taught me how to appear normal, and more importantly how to deal with my
anger in ways that didnt cause anyone harm. She fought for me so that I would not have to go
back to my parents and won. I know there is no way for me to repay a kindness like that, so I just
try to make her proud. She is the reason I am trying to further my education, to make something
out of my life that I can be proud of myself.
Individuals are good, at their core every human has the power to impact the world in
ways that are greatly beneficial. There are thousands of examples of individuals doing good in
the world; from Martin Luther King Jr helping the African community push for equal rights,
Albert Einstein and his incredible contribution to physics, or Henry Dunant for founding the
international red cross. There are many more examples of individuals working to better mankind,
too many to fit in this essay, but they all deserve recognition.
From making life easier to advocating equality, individuals have accomplished much
more than groups could ever hope to. They are the ones that change how the world functions and
it feels like we are all waiting for the next great individual to come along and save us from
ourselves, but I think that we already have everything we need to accomplish this goal. If more
people abandoned the instincts of a group and relied on individual thought the world could be a
much brighter place in as little as a day.