In “So you have been publicly shamed” by Jon Ronson, p102, he cites the famous Stanford Prison experiment and interview by Dave Eshelman, the “evil guard”.
Dave explained his actions saying that the first night was boring. “So I thought I’d get some action going”. In his mind he decided to channel sadistic southern prison warden Strother Martin from the movie “Cool Hand Luke” which he had just seen. “I thought I was doing something good at the time.”
Doing something good.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. A quote by one of my lecturers in political science at INSEAD.
Somehow this quote haunts me today as it usually does, after a class teaching ethics.
In his book, humorously written, Ronson provoked the thought of people who do evil, under the impression that they are doing public good. Think online shaming.
Many investigative journalistic stories especially the one on female developer Adria Richards vs Hank, where she publicly called out on a group of guys at the PyCon conference for not being respectful to the community. He lost his job as a result. The online trolling community attacked her company and she lost hers as a result…. The downward spiral had its rippling effect.
Chinese historian Shima Qian who compiled 史记 in 86BC, concluded that while those who do evil will suffer evil. Those who do good may not necessarily be rewarded.
He did not elaborate. But I suppose that we need wisdom while doing good. The good you do may not really be good.