I had the rare privilege of listening to Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, a world renowned psychologist, discuss world morality and evil and how to combat it. Known for his Stanford Prison Experiment, Dr. Zimbardo was interested to see if he could turn “good” people into “bad” people by manipulating an environment to represent a prison. Eventually, it was shut down due to its unethical practices. However, it is forever infamous for establishing a revolution in APA guidelines to make controlled environmental studies healthier for participants.
Years later, Dr. Zimbardo committed himself to turn his research around during the world’s pivot from equality. Inspired by his research and the kindness of his community, he began what he called “The Heroic Imagination Project.”
Contrary from his previous experiment, the non profit’s focus was to turn ordinary people into “good” people, or rather, something of a hero.
He discussed the project’s necessity in these testing times and explained that the goal is to simply spread strength amongst our young adults. Sound familiar?
The project consists of specific lessons and modules to help people understand the psychology of decision making, good vs evil, strong vs. week, etc. This way, before people even begin to be active in their communities, they’ll understand the why behind behavior rather than going in blind. This method drastically reduces the potential violent risks that can occur due to anger and disagreement; when two groups understand each other, finding a viable solution becomes less of an impossibility.
I wish I had more time with Dr. Zimbardo, for I would have told him I fervently admire his methodology to not only provide lessons in psychology, but proactively creating change. He teaches with the intent to inspire and writes for the hope of change.
That is the type of news I wish to see on my feed. Ironically enough, psychology teaches us that humans are persuaded through visual cues and observational learning. When we present informational positivity such as that, it not only lifts our spirits, but encourages that same response on our own end. Similar to coronavirus, when inspiration hits one of us, it hits us all.
Later that week, I experienced the one and only Hamilton for the second time in my life. Of course, this experience was virtual but all the same, I was emotionally conflicted. Hamilton takes us on an intense and personal journey of the life of Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler as they migrate through the discovery of the streets and systems that make up our country today. Lin Manuel-Miranda also elaborates on the deeper meaning of history and I cannot quite understand what it is yet. All the same, he initiated a historical and original piece of art that took us on an emotional rollercoaster through the mistakes of history and humanity themselves to express a deeper root.
Why am I telling you all this? For one thing, I want my audience to understand all of the possible ways to create change through a pen and paper. However, I also want to spread the good, all I see is the bad nowadays which contributes to the anger and unrest. I want to start to see a real change out there and even if I only a reach a couple of people a day, at least I’ll know that I planted those thoughts and they’ll find their way out of my audience’s head eventually and be out there for other people to absorb and act upon eventually.
Be the change you want to see in the future because for all we know, we may be in for the long haul. Just because you’re not in a classroom, or at work, or in a laboratory doesn’t mean your duty to the country is finished. Finish what George Washington started, what Martin Luther Kind Jr. started, what your parents started, your mentor, anyone! Possibilities are endless when you determine where to start.
All it takes is a pen, paper, and a voice.