“Sure it’s Okay to Sell Your Children Into Slavery, Lotta People Do it”

I’ve often puzzled over some of the extremely immoral things that fairly ordinary people do. I could come up with examples from right here in the USA but the one that’s on my mind is, in some third world countries it’s fairly common to sell your children into indentured servitude, or even to sell them into sex slavery. It’s done by rather a lot of people, all of whom can’t be psychopathic monsters. How is that possible? Two mechanisms may be at work. Rationalization, obviously: “At least this way someone will feed them. They will survive. And I must think of my wife first.” But I suspect an even more potent cause is the fact that it now passes for custom there. When a few people did it, a few others said, they did it, so can I. And when it became relatively commonplace, that made it more commonplace. People can be quite kneejerk about the “they’re doing it, it’s our way” justification.

There’s something about conformity that helps suppress empathy and conscience. Once the sickness is part of a community, it becomes an apparent “solution” to the family’s food crisis, and the parents, desperate for a solution, tell themselves that this is an accepted solution. And somehow it allows them to mute their feelings for their children, just enough…

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