Synthesis Research Essay Sample: Social Injustice

Published: 2021-08-15
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Carnegie Mellon University
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Research paper
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Should an individual or a group of individuals interfere in stopping a violent attack if that individual or a group of individuals witnesses that attack? That is the question that many psychologists and laymen have been pondering over for decades on end. In other words, have humans developed a tendency to ignore each other's cries for help. The sequence of events that defined the Rwandan Genocide, for instance, is very much congruent to the murder of Catherine Genovese that took place at the heart of New York City where thirty-eight individuals witnessed it yet did nothing to help her. Catherine otherwise known as Kitty was coming home late from work; she had closed her bar at 3:00 a.m. and it was when she had reached the apartment block where she lived that she was attacked in a span of 35 minutes while 38 of her neighbors watched; these later witnessed the turn of events to the police officers (Slater, 94). The Rwandan Genocide and the Case of Kitty Genovese above have a common denominator; one of having a predisposition of people who would have potentially helped but did nothing. The new definition of social injustice factors all wrongful actions directed towards other vulnerable human beings and all forms of inaction to assist those in need of basic needs or security for their lives.

World over a brief history of witnesses not doing anything is a vicious cycle that can be foretold over and over again in different versions. If the inaction of witnesses could be compared to a film, it would be a classic case of the same script given to different casts to act it out. In the Rwandan Genocide that was largely defined by Hutus and the Tutsis; they had a political feud that later culminated into a civil war. A lot of Hutus were killed simply because of their tribe and alleged political affiliations. All this while the world watched; the African Union and the United Nations did nothing to address the killings that took place day in day out in the Rwandan Genocide. In fact what the United Nations did was to arrange for transportation of all foreign diplomats and expatriates out of Rwanda. The above cases paint a new picture altogether of social injustice. Normally social injustice has been perceived by all human beings as doing wrong towards others; in essence, it has been viewed as action based. However through the lens of the Rwandan Genocide and all the other genocides in history; together with cases of crime where victims cried for help but were ignored by people who would have helped them, comes the reality that inaction is very much similar to actions of social injustice.

In the book In the Unlikely Event of Water Landing, the author posits a question seeking to understand whether psychologically human beings are bound to ignore other peoples cries for help if they do not pose any form of danger to them (Slater, 94). Are human beings usually shocked into inaction or numbness whenever they come across a situation they are needed to help another out of grave danger such as homicide? Some psychologists have termed this as affect denial and speculate that Americans and the entirety of the human race could have the television to blame for their indifference every time they are needed to help someone who is being attacked. The human brace has been so subjected to an endless stream of violence from the television that they can no longer separate real life experiences from the screen; this effect would make human beings treat areal life murder as a television scene where they are just supposed to watch.

Communication could be the main reasons why human beings get involved in and also become victims of social injustice. More specifically the blocking of communication is the root of social injustice whereas its facilitation is the source of peace and harmony within ourselves and with those that are around us (Opotow, 23). Carl Rogers, in his book Communication: Its Blocking and its Facilitation, talks about how communication breakdown within an individual is what brings about mental conditions such as neurosis. Whats more, he adds that the blocking of communication is what makes individuals unable to absolve their differences and come to amiable terms (Rogers, 35). Antagonist tendencies, which have time and again been the reason for social conflict, are the epitome of social injustice. Major civil wars and genocides in the course of history have been the result of adamant proponents who refused to give communication a chance and instead chose to take up arms.

Should an individual or a group of individuals interfere in stopping a violent attack if that individual or a group of individuals witnesses that attack? The answer is naturally a resounding yes, but sadly that is usually not the case. Many human beings find themselves in a moral dilemma whenever they are faced with a situation within which they are supposed to act the bigger person and very much feel like they need to run away. The reason why there are a lot of cases where human beings decide to act indifferent whenever it is required of them to help is that they are afraid that the worst may befall them. Carl Rogers would perhaps relate the inaction of witnesses as a failure of communication at the individual level. It could be that witnesses who fail to help an individual that is in danger are not able to communicate intrinsically and ask themselves what they would want others to do for them in case such a situation befalls them.

Reviewing the matter in a bid to seek logical inclination presents the notion that self-preservation is a strong motivation for witnesses. For that matter Carl Rogerss reasoning could be used to point out that the reason why witnesses do not interfere to stop a violent attack or a calamity is not because of a communication blocking or failure per se; it is because the first form of communication persuades' them to be wary and move away from war or animosity (McKinney, 55). The biological explanation of why witnesses choose not to get involved in the face of social injustice is because they choose flight instead of fight. Fight and flight are two responses that living organisms exhibit whenever they are found in a compromising position. Encapsulated within the life process of irritability, they are natural and depend on the resolve of any one human being at a particular moment.

The world should understand that human beings are not a courageous lot and the reason why they do not take part in helping their kind is that they fear for their lives and wellbeing. This argument, however, is only applicable to the case of Thirty Eight Witnesses; The Kitty Genovese Case. For the Rwandan Genocide and a host of other similar scenarios that have taken place all over the world, world nations and powers at large have no excuse for failing to intervene in the face of turmoil. Troops affiliated to the African Union and the United Nations would have easily gotten a hold of the situation before matters got out of hand. The preservation of the self is not fit enough as an excuse when a group of trained soldiers could have stopped a mass killing of innocent people. In fact, the whole situation is grotesque, implausible and beats logic; it can demoralize anyone who would be looking to find purpose in life.

The Rogerian enthymematical claim of policy is also known as the Rogerian Argument or Rogerian rhetoric. It is a conflict-solving technique grounded upon looking for common ground as opposed to polarizing debates. This school of thought comes in very handy whenever any two factions are they political, national, or civil have a bone of contention and are baying for each others blood. The Rogerian rhetoric corresponds to the facilitation of communication put forward also by Carl Rogers and would have been very much admissible were it applied to the Rwandan civil misunderstandings between the Hutu and the Tutsi (Rogers, 87). Overall, it is undeniable that social injustice thrives in our community and societies because we let it do so. If we as a race take charge of situations and use the power that is naturally in our hands, then the world would be a better place.

Works Cited

Freeman, Harold P. "Poverty, culture, and social injustice: determinants of cancer disparities." CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 54.2 (2004): 72-77.

McKinney, Matthew R. Critiquing Critical Pedagogy: A Multidisciplinary Theoretical Inquiry. Diss. University of Nevada, Reno, 2017.

Opotow, Susan. "Social injustice." The encyclopedia of peace psychology (2011).

Rogers, Carl. On becoming a person: A therapist's view of psychotherapy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

Slater, Lauren. Opening Skinner's box: Great psychological experiments of the twentieth century. WW Norton & Company, 2005.

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