chapter  7
22 Pages

Monstrous deeds, not monstrous people

Can those who have committed serious wrongs come to feel guilt and remorse? Can they come to understand how what they did profoundly hurt the victims of their actions, feel empathy for those victims, and seek to dissociate themselves from what they did and choose another route in life? Effectively commit themselves to these more humane and benevolent feelings and values? Repent and re-direct their lives? In one sense, the answer to these questions must simply be yes, because some people have done so. From experience, we know that people are capable of making fundamental changes in their lives. Whether through religious conversion, social support restoring dignity and a sense of self-esteem, or exposure to the suffering and lives of victims, moral transformation is a fact of human life. Moral transformations have been actual; thus they are clearly possible. Human nature is neither good nor bad; rather, human beings show a capacity both for good and even saintly actions and for bad, sometimes appallingly evil ones. Human beings also show a capacity for moral change and sometimes for change so fundamental as to deserve the name, moral transformation.