In The Roots of Goodness and Resistance to Evil, Ervin Staub draws on his extensive experiences in scholarship and intervention to illuminate the socializing experiences, education, and trainings that lead children and adults to become helpers/active bystanders and rescuers, acting to prevent violence and create peaceful and harmonious societies.
The book collects Staub's most important and influential articles and essays in the field, compiling a variety ofexamples of helping behaviors as well as discussions of why we should help and not harm others.
He addresses a wide range of such behaviors, from helping people in everyday physical or psychological distress, to active bystandership in response to harmful actions by youth toward their peers (bullying), toendangering one's life to save someone in immediate danger, or rescuing intended victims of genocide. Staub engages with ways to promote active bystandership in the service of preventing violence, helping people to heal from violence, and building caring societies.
He explores the range of experiences that lead to active bystandership, including socialization by parents, teachers (and peers) in childhood, education, experiential learning, and public education through media.
He examines what personal characteristics or dispositions result from such experiences, which in turn lead to caring andhelping.
Staub also considers how circumstances influence people-both individuals and whole groups-and how they join with personal dispositions to determine whether people remain passive in the face of others' need or instead help others and behave in morally courageous or even heroic ways.
Heconsiders how moral and caring values can be subverted by circumstances, and outlines ways to resist that possiblity.
He also considers how past victimization and the resulting psychological woundedness, which can lead to "defensive violence" or hostility toward people and the world, may be transformed by other experiences, leading to "altruism born of suffering." The book draws on research and theory as well as work in applied settings.
Ultimately this book will help readers explore how we canturn ourselves into active, helpful people and what we need to do to create peaceful and caring societies.