Would you risk being seen as different, as a deviant to perform a heroic act? If you are like most of us – no you wouldn’t.
Stanford Professor Phil Zimbardo passionately speaks about his book, The Lucifer Effect and his nonprofit organization, The Hero Project in this interview with Michael Bungay Stanier. Zimbardo explains that heroes are deviants, they go against the system be it his example of the black man who jumps down to save a white man from an oncoming subway train in N.Y.C. or the average folk in Egypt toppling their government.
If we are to be heroes, we first need to start to be aware of the group consciousness and its power. Being in a group often puts you into a trance, a state where you aren’t fully aware. To get out of the trance of a group, be it your peer group or your government, puts you into to you need know that at least this group mind is possible. Good people do bad things or don’t do the right thing because they go along, often unconscious of their action or lack of actions.
Some evil is perpetrated by those doing bad things. Most is done by inaction. You may think, “That is not me. I would do something.” Zimbardo claims that belief is the setup to be the man who doesn’t say no, the man who doesn’t take action. Acting as a hero is the opposite of being a villain. Being a hero brings a potential cost to your action. Being the passive villain brings no immediate risk.
Owning what you are unaware is an act of courage. Admitting to yourself that you are influenced by the group starts the process of deviance. You are developing the possibility of choice. On his site, The Heroic Imagination Project Zimbardo teaches you how to become aware of using fun and proven methods. You learn how to be a “hero in training” so that when a hero is called for you are one step ahead of the pack. You are more likely to be the heroic deviant.
Story also see on NPR.
When was the last time you stood by and did nothing? What system have you lately spoken up against the unstated values, the villainess behavior or the group’s non heroic action?