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|Journey to Rwanda - Page 5|
Zimbardo emphasizes that his theory that evil comes from "a bad barrel" rather than "a bad apple" doesn't excuse crimes or suggest that people don't have to be held accountable for what they do, but he thinks we hold a false belief that good is separate from evil, when, in reality, good and evil are intertwined potentials, and either of them can emerge in any of us, depending on the context. Zimbardo's book helps me understand my unexpected response to the genocidaires.
After our morning of interviews with prisoners, we're invited to attend a fellowship gathering. To our surprise and embarrassment, we're led into an auditorium of more than 400 prisoners, including about 100 women (a few holding babies in pink uniforms), and asked to sit on a stage along with a few prisoners and the fellowship ministers. The prisoners are singing beautiful gospel songs. Suddenly, a large group from the first few rows gets up and begins dancing energetically. I love to dance and find it hard to stay in my chair. Finally, I can stand it no longer and encourage my teammates to join me in getting off the stage. The prisoners are delighted and dance even more enthusiastically as we join them. In no time, we're all sweating together.
When the dancing is over, we sit down with the prisoners on the long benches. I'm with the women—one white face, no pink uniform. I'm given a baby to hold, and I turn her to face the stage, so she won't be afraid of my white skin. I feel the warmth of these women as they shyly smile at me and then look away quickly.