Encountering conflict can bring out the best and the worst in people. Discuss

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Encountering conflict can bring out the best and the worst in people

  • Intro – September 11 brought out good and bad
  • Barack Obama
  • Brought out good patriotism
  • Turned into revenge which bred racial intolerance
  • Multiculturalism placed on trial
  • Culture of surveillance
  • 1 – Conflict elicit our virtue
  • Channel to reassess
  • Giles Corey – bravery in confrontation and death
  • 2 – Conflict can make us reassess and change who we are
  • Bali Nine leaders – bad to good
  • 3 – Conflict can bring out self-serving behaviour
  • With “arena of morality” gone, characters exploited
  • Thomas Putnam
  • “long held hatreds”
  • Ann Putnam and Abigail seek revenge
  • 4 – Conflict seen today in dictators  
  • Mobutu Sese Seko
  • The Western world’s ignorance
  • People can do as they want
  • 5 – Conflict can bring people together
  • Proctor’s are brought together
  • At home, “sense of separation”, but this changes in face of conflict

Intro: 9/11 brought out good and bad; volunteers, racial intolerance, multiculturalism on trial

“One of the things we’ve told them is that the worst terrorist attack in American history also brought out the best in our country”.

These are the profound sentiments Barack Obama. “Firefighters, police and first responders rushed into danger to save others…Volunteers lined up to give blood….Schoolchildren donated their savings…We were united, as Americans”. There is truth in these sentiments. In the days that followed September 11, America came together as a nation with a firm, steely revolve to rise above this disaster. There was a new found patriotism, born from the dust that engulfed the city as the Twin Towers crashed to the ground. But once the dust settled, another side of America was unleashed – a lust, a burning desire for revenge, to inflict pain on the ‘enemy’. The call to patriotism bordered on savage jingoism, fueled by our elite politicians. George’s Bushs’ remark, “you’re either with us or with the terrorists” divided the Western World. “There [was and still] is no in-between”. Our revenge gave rise to the War on Terror – it is a word that has gripped a nation, engendering fear and racial intolerance. Anything foreign was viewed as a form of dissent. In Australia, as in Europe and America, multiculturalism was quickly placed on trial. The Howard government headed the prosecution, repeatedly demanding the integration of migrants whose failure to integrate had never been demonstrated, dreaming up citizenship tests, canning the ministerial portfolio of multicultural affairs, and haranguing Muslims about Simpson and his donkey. We embarked on War to ‘protect our freedom’, yet this is the very thing we were slowly denying on our home soil. A public culture of surveillance was quickly established. Governments, with popular backing, took the profoundly illiberal task of interrogating the values of their citizens, telling them what they should be. The result for Western Muslims has been a decade defending their faith from associations with terrorism. We have seen a decade of division between Christians and Muslims, Westerners and ‘them’. And so, perhaps Barack Obama needed to add another line to his speech – September 11 also brought out the worst in us.

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Conflict can elicit our virtue

Conflict can become the channel through which we reassess our values and change who we are. As the very title of ‘The Crucible’, a vessel used for purifying materials, indicates, crises can test characters and elicit their virtue. The Salem Witch-Hunts were a gross manifestation of evil, yet, paradoxically, amidst the hysteria and paranoia, certain acts of heroism and courage flourished. Giles Corey is perhaps the most unheralded hero in the play. Initially presented as a self-serving, petty man, obsessed with executing his judicial rights, he displays an irrefutable courage when faced with the ...

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