One bogus notion we all amuse ourselves with is that if we had lived in some deeply corrupt time or place such as the pre-segregation south we would have stood up to it. We tell ourselves we would have understood the evil and denounced it. But most people did did not. Most people just adjusted to the evil that surrounded them.
I know, I know, nobody thinks they would have been in the crowd shouting, "Crucify him!" Okay, maybe not but are you so sure you might not have been one of the people who saw it happening and thought they didn't want to get involved.
We imagine that it couldn't happen again today but it does happen today all the time.
Here is a mirror. It's a magical mirror and only good people can see themselves in it. Have a look:
For a long time I couldn't figure you at all. You have nice ways and nice qualities, but there was something wrong. You had standards and you lived up to them, but they were personal They had no relation to any kind of ethics or scruples. You were a nice guy because you had a nice nature. But you were just as happy with mugs or hoodlums as with honest men. Provided the hoodlums spoke fairly good English and had fairly acceptable table manners. You're a moral defeatist. I think maybe the war did it and again I think maybe you were born that way.The quote is from The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. It's pretty obvious that Chandler does not mean this to be just a conversation between two particular men. He is leveling an indictment at his entire generation. It applies to the current generation too. We have to make some adjustments. Instead of "the war" we should think whatever trials we have had to face in life. Either way, it's nature or nurture although Chandler really means Marlowe to be ironic here. He thinks we had something to do with what we have become and, more importantly , what we failed to become.