I think the trouble I had with Dr. Peck’s, People Of the Lie was his attempt to quantify and measure evil as a series of aberrant characteristics. He focuses on the nature of evil as simply deception, selfishness, laziness, passivity, callousness, and lack of compassion. Seemingly, the nature of evil can be solved by a few sessions of therapy and group hugs.
His most disturbing finding of the nature of evil was a lack of awareness and lack of sensitivity for other’s feelings. I guess Hitler and the Nazi regime slaughtered six million Jews because they were just plain inconsiderate?? When I cut someone off on a freeway, that’s inconsiderate. When I decide on a calculated program of genocide, and plunging the world into war, I think you can come up with a more deeper explanation of my act than “lack of sensitivity”.
Peck's example of the My Lai Incident in the Vietnam War as an example of evil based on "group narcissism" or "group identity" is way off base. Dr. Peck completely discounts the *nature* of that war and the people, especially the young draftee GIs that fought it. It would be interesting to see what he would've done if he was in the boots of those young men of the Americal Division that day in March of 1969, watching their buddies die in fire coming from several "pacified" village hamlets.
I don’t agree with his final premise of the root of evil being narcissism and laziness. Evil, in the human experience, has always been a dynamic and active process, seldom a passive one. Certainly not something you can treat with Prozac or “feel good” pop psychology.
…send lawyers, guns, and money…