Obedient, Docile Men


“I have thought for a long time now that if, some day, the increasing efficiency for the technique of destruction finally causes our species to disappear from the earth, it will not be cruelty that will be responsible for our extinction and still less, of course, the indignation that cruelty awakens and the reprisals and vengeance that it brings upon itself … but the docility, the lack of responsibility of the modern man, his base subservient acceptance of every common decree. The horrors that we have seen, the still greater horrors we shall presently see, are not signs that rebels, insubordinate, untamable men are increasing in number throughout the world, but rather that there is a constant increase in the number of obedient, docile men.”

—George Bernanos

Quoted in ‘Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life’ by Marshall B. Rosenberg (pp. 21-22). PuddleDancer Press.

I am pretty sure that R D Laing would have agreed with that statement. He makes the point that ‘normal’ men in the 20th Century killed 100 million of their fellow humans. It was he whose writing caused me to think again about the relative value that I (and we as humans) place upon the life as lived vis a vis others, and the life of the imagination. All are forms of experience and all merit being accepted as valuable experiences.