The human mind routinely struggles with fear as a protective mechanism against external threats. People experiencing fear yearn for a sense of control to convince themselves psychologically that they are capable of acting in several ways to avert the perceived threat. These defensive measures may include scapegoating, witch-hunt, terrorism and racism, which, from a rational perspective, are arguably delusional. Modern-day witch hunts, which are the focus of this paper, are common in Latin America, the Pacific islands, Africa and some parts of Europe and the USA where blameless individuals are condemned and executed for witchcraft. With that in mind, the following paragraphs evaluate the correlation between fear and these witch-hunts with specific attention on determining how fear influences human behavior and whether the society is justified to embrace these practices.
(Noel Hunter) acknowledges that the persecution of witches has been a dominant approach used by governments and different communities for years to remedy societal woes such as death and turmoil. First, the enforcers of this norm obtain details of witchcraft from particular informants then exterminate the perpetrators alleged to be tormenting innocent civilians through enchantment. The Salem witch trials exemplify this mob mentality whereas States such as Connecticut consider wizardly as a capital offense that calls for execution of its perpetrators. (Hartt) argues that analysing witch-hunts evokes Edward Deming's postulations on total quality management, whereby expelling fear within an institution or company presents a worthwhile solution to guaranteeing perpetual client satisfaction, top-notch service provision and contentment among staff members. The Salem hearings violate this notion since the clerical officials' outright behavior to incite civilians to disclose and condemn any person suspected to be a witch served as an effective mechanism to impose fear upon residents with little moral benefits to offset the harmful impacts of this fear.
On one hand, this attack and denunciation of suspected witchdoctors results in a win/lose situation owing to the sheer brutality associated with victimizing innocent persons as being sorcerers. (Noel) argues that most of the individuals considered to be practising witchery are traumatized residents subjected to the deleterious effects of abject poverty, molestation, gender prejudice and rape. Spreading fear across the community acts as the main objective of tracking down and punishing witches. An environment engulfed with oppression and fear is unhealthy for any inhabitant since people will be forced to lead short and unhappy lives. (Marissa) stipulates that development becomes agonizingly slow among members in a culture that hunts witches. The even more disheartening part is that societies that espouse witch-hunting tend to totally believe in the notion that this exercise shields its members from wicked forces even though guiltless people may be wrongly chastised in the name of "decimating sorcerers"
Furthermore, the horror's full extent is still uncertain since there are few official statistics that reveal the number of victimized civilians in addition to the inadequate legal frameworks formulated to curb such delinquencies (Swancer). In some instances, the inadequacy in legal mechanisms to reproach suspected witchdoctors is evident in the rather light sentences imposed on convicted persons despite the severity of witchery. (Fessenden) states that a lack of quality education may be, perhaps, responsible for this witch-hunting behavior, which is paradoxical to the sense that the current age is typified by an advanced reasoning and rationality as seen in the budding communal abandonment of ideologies such as witches colluding to curse targeted members or groups in the society. Therefore, having witch hunters lurk the modern setting to further exacerbate the number of deaths affiliated to this course of action puzzles the mind since from a moral perspective, such practices ought to have vanished from the social order long time ago.
Contrary to the argument raised above that disapproves witch-hunting as a viable norm in any modern society, politicians and the ruling class hold the belief that killing witchdoctors allows them to absolve the general public of any culpability. This viewpoint validates the idea that the society is not accountable for its defeats, agony, negative feelings and problems with the specific group of sorcerers being entirely to blame for these mishaps (Noel Hunter). For that reason, it would be justified to effectively eliminate such individuals from the community for its greater good and long-term survival and wholesomeness. Moreover, to the powerful society members, witch-hunting relieves the public of the terror spawning from the view that their lifestyle is attributable to all the glitches and issues facing them. To this end, sacrificing witches is deemed to be a practical exercise in maintaining tranquility and wellness across the affected community. Nonetheless, an absence of substantial proof to justify the causative effect of witchery on the civic well-being nullifies such validation of witch-hunting thereby leaving the overwhelming fear and trauma imposed on innocent persons during witch-hunts as the overriding justification as to why this practice should be abolished with immediate effect.
Based on the above account, it is safe to infer that witch-hunting spreads fear among members of a community, which considerably reduces their chances of living happy lives. Additionally, development becomes agonizingly slow among individuals in cultures that uphold the condemnation of suspected witches. Calling upon the public to reveal and denounce the so-called witchdoctors or magicians serves as an effective tool to impose fear upon the populace with little ethical benefits to counterbalance the detrimental bearings caused by this fear. On the other hand, to the elite class, hunting down and killing sorcerers eradicates a group that is apparently to blame for the society's ordeals thus ensuring longevity in its wellness. However, this validation of witch-hunting lacks solid evidence to back the existence of witchcraft thereby raising questions about the motive of the ruling class in implementing such brutal measures. Consequently, the society will be relentlessly traumatized by witch-hunting if people continue to subscribe to this practice oblivious of its underlying repercussions as indicated above.
Fessenden, Marissa. "Why Do Witch Hunts Still Happen?". Smithsonian, 2015, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-do-witch-hunts-still-happen-180957106/. Accessed 7 June 2018.
Hartt, Cathy. "Witch-Hunts: The Impact Of Fear". Pearllakehist.Com, http://www.pearllakehist.com/witchfear.html. Accessed 5 June 2018.
Noel Hunter, Psy.D. "The Modern Day Witch-Hunt - Mad In America". Mad In America, 2015, https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/12/the-modern-day-witch-hunt/. Accessed 5 June 2018.
Swancer, Brent. "The Dark World Of Real Modern Day Witch Hunters | Mysterious Universe". Mysterious Universe, 2017, http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2017/09/the-dark-world-of-real-modern-day-witch-hunters/. Accessed 7 June 2018.
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