A Failure of Human Empathy: The Salem Witch Trials

Posted by Shane | Posted on July 14, 2021

By Edgar Louis de Gracia
HAPI Scholar

The Salem Witch Trials were a series of witchcraft cases in 1692-1693 in colonial Massachusetts. It was believed that witches were young women and men who were possessed by the devil or involved themselves in “the dark arts”. By then, the belief wasn’t new: the idea of the devil offering powers to humans to harm others in exchange for loyalty emerged in Europe back in the 14th century.

witch, broom, darkRumors slowly spread to other rural communities such as Salem village. Unfortunately, Salem village was suffering from many things, namely: a smallpox epidemic, fears of being attacked by Native Americans, family rivalry, and the aftermath of the war between the British and the French. Tensions rose in Salem village, and those who had resentment and suspicions towards their neighbors accused each other of dabbling into witchcraft.

A special court was convened to ensure some semblance of order. The very first convicted witch in Salem was Bridget Bishop. She was sentenced to be hanged in June of that year, and 18 others who were convicted were also hanged. Men, women, and children were being accused of dabbling into witchcraft over the next several months. By September 1692, hysteria slowly decreased, and public opinion turned against the witch trials.

After the Salem Witch Trials, bitterness lingered in the community and the painful legacy of the farce would be remembered for centuries to come.

This was one of the dark times that humanity would never forget. All of the atrocities committed in Salem were done simply out of resentment, hate, and superstition. The Salem Witch Trials made a mark on society and served as a reminder that people would commit the most heinous acts for the things they believe to be true.

As time flows ever forward, human society has also moved forward. From the barbaric ways of our ancestors to the present day, humanity has dramatically improved in mere centuries. And THAT has to be applauded.

“The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future because some of the best lessons we ever learn are from our mistakes and failures”. – Tryon Edwards

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Edgar Louis de Gracia

Edgar is the newest HAPI Scholar!

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