Hannah Arendt, who witnessed two world wars that caused the deaths of millions of people and the normalization of evil over the course of sixty-nine years of her life, and who did not succumb to the darkness of her time but exhibited a stance that allowed the light to infiltrate into people’s lives, considers the idea that “no matter what we do, we cannot change the world’s order” as a perversion and expresses that the spread of this thought is the most dangerous thing that could happen for the future. She believes that those who think this way will believe that they are helpless in the face of evil, injustice, and suffering, and that they will either remain indifferent to the problems they encounter or succumb to them, which would be exactly in line with the goals of totalitarian systems.
Arendt, a world-renowned political scientist who was detained by the Nazis because she was Jewish and was released by chance after being held for 8 days, realized that it was not possible to stay in Germany after this incident and went to Paris and then to America. She remained stateless from the year she went to Paris in 1933 until she obtained American citizenship in 1951.
Unlike many people who evade responsibility and take refuge in denial of the truth in the face of evil, she does not accept retreating into irresponsibility and indifference. Instead, she reminds us that we are not powerless and that we are responsible for making the world we share with others a better place through thinking, taking responsibility, and taking action in the face of the problems we encounter.
Arendt believes that the strengthening of totalitarian regimes can only be possible with the support of individuals who evade responsibility and thinking, and she supports this idea with Adolf Eichmann, a former Nazi officer who was tried by Israeli courts. Arendt says that Eichmann, who avoided taking responsibility for the crimes he committed on the grounds of “just following orders,” also avoided thinking by watching over others. Ordinary people who commit their actions with expressions like “I only did what I was told” or “I had no other choice” have not thought that their actions resulted in the evil of millions of people being killed, nor have they felt the responsibility for it. Furthermore, she points out that Eichmann was not alone and that the majority of supporters of the totalitarian regime were ordinary people who thought and evaded responsibility, just like Eichmann. However, despite these thousands of people, there is also a minority that thinks and refuses to be complicit in evil.
As long as this minority, which includes people from all walks of life, exists, Arendt believes that we can hope for a better world.
Although the story takes place in Germany, doesn’t it resemble what is happening in our country? Judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, prison personnel, and public officials who say “I only did what I was told” or “I had no other choice” have caused and continue to cause thousands of people to suffer because they have avoided taking responsibility and thinking. Evil has become so normalized that those who commit it do not know why they did it or why the victims became victims.
Why is the September 26 Decision Important?
Like tens of thousands of victims, in an environment where we almost cry out for judges who think and refuse to be complicit in evil to emerge, we received the news that ‘a better world is possible’ from the European Court of Human Rights.
The Grand Chamber of the ECHR announced that it would announce its decision, which would almost affect all trials, on September 26. It is impossible not to be excited. If the decision comes out as expected, it is impossible for it to be otherwise, the unjust and victimized by tens of thousands of people will be officially certified by the highest judicial body.
This decision will undoubtedly not only put an end to the victimization of the victims but also provide an opportunity for the broken legal system, which judges and prosecutors have avoided responsibility for and have not thought about, to be fixed.
I hope that in our country where evil has become so normalized, it will be possible to make a new beginning after the decision, and everyone will contribute.
As Hamlet said, ‘Time is out of joint; why, then, has ill fortune chosen me to set it right?’ I have no doubt that with the presence of individuals who take responsibility, think, take action, and oppose for the sake of a better, just, and free country, a better world is possible.
As long as there are those who fight for a better world, we can continue to hope: ‘There is no room for despair. If a person does their best, better days will surely come’…”