It is with irony that both the social/religious reformers and those in power are able to morally justify their behaviour. The authorities… believe they are right in responding unfairly, cruelly or violently as they are representing the greater community, and the reformers believe they are right in using similar tactics as they are attempting to bring about social/religious change.
This is where the old adage “one person’s hero is another’s villain” can plainly be seen. Moreover, here is the explanation for the failure of moral appeals to bring an end to the violence; both sides are able to justify their own behaviour while vilifying the other’s.
Moral justification is an effective tool in disengaging one’s morals from one’s behaviour. In reconstruing the violent act as having a moral purpose, no matter which party in the conflict uses it, not only do they impede self condemnation but they create self valuation. So whether it is ISIS or the “Commish” each can not only (and does) subvert self criticism for insensitive acts but rather pat themselves on the back for doing a good thing.
…Can you see the human dynamic in it all? Can you see how responding in a “knee jerk” fashion will only keep the same dance going. A new dance is needed to resolve these things. One side is as guilty as the other for keeping it going…
Psychologist Dr. Mike Webster writes often about relationships between senior management and the men and women delivering police services in our communities. He knows about moral disengagement, which allows virtuous people to commit inhumane acts. Webster’s words can help us gain understanding: