Our society has already proven itself prone to many forms of human flaws, from abuse of authority, to child abuse, to embezzling money, to highly placed leaders getting side-tracked, to murder and more
Our society has already proven itself prone to many forms of human flaws, from abuse of authority, to child abuse, to embezzling money, to highly placed leaders getting side-tracked, to murder and more. As the quote from Sol Stein says on the back cover “The truth is that adultery, theft, hypocrisy, envy, and boredom are all sins practiced everywhere that human nature thrives.” Human nature thrives in ISKCON.
Despite our idealism, therefore, it is unintelligent to assume our community above any kind of human flaw. Our thinking should be like town planners, who, knowing what to expect wherever human nature thrives, include a jail in the town design. We should think,
“Dysfunctional dealings are possible, therefore best to be on the lookout for them as we are always potentially capable of manifesting some kind of aberration.”
Such realism does not work against love and trust. It fosters it. As Prabhupada used to say,
“A lock (on a safe) keeps an honest person honest.”
To show how easily human nature can become irrational I have included the highlights of an experiment done in Stanford University that shows the ease with which we humans can abuse authority. The purpose of the study was to find out why prison life can be so dehumanizing. Of course, ISKCON is not a prison so the discussion may seem irrelevant. That is only superficial, however, because what was learned about human behavior from this study has significance for all types of institutions, for it shows what peers can do to each other when even pretend “authority” is conferred to some.
There are parallels between ISKCON and a prison: Both are institutions in which “authority” is emphasized and in both the working assumption is that wave making is not to be tolerated or reasoned with; although this assumption is not necessarily accurate. The dynamics, however, flow from this assumption. Thus, the fact that the experiment was done to understand the dynamics of prison life is not significant. The significant thing was the lesson about institutional dynamics. By the end, therefore, we’ll see that the conductor of the experiment considered that his findings revealed the power of kinds of “social, institutional forces to make most men engage in evil deeds.” We’ll see that thinking “It could be happening to us” is the wisest outlook.
I quote verbatim (in italics) the main part of this interesting and worrisome experiment as it appeared in Mind watching 1), by Hans and Michael Eysenck. The numbers in parentheses correspond to the numbered extracts with remarks which follow in the next chapter: