See the guy (encircled)? The image has been floating around on facebook with the captioning “Be this guy” or some-such. “This guy’s” name was (probably) August Landmesser, and the picture was taken in Hamburg, 1936, during a speech made by Adolf Hitler. August Landmesser was an awe-inspiring example of a ‘disobedient non-conformist’. Studies (namely Asch, 1952, 1956; Milgram, 1963) have revealed that we as humans are highly likely to conform to the group norm, even in spite of our knowledge that the norms are outright wrong. We will alter our beliefs dramatically in order to fit in, and this conformity could leave us willing to carry out (or turn a blind eye to) atrocities carried out by our own groups.
Non-conformity and disobedience frequently also has a high price. We do not know what happened to August Landmesser, but we have several current-day examples where disobedience for the common good has been punished severely. We need not look furter than to Snowden, Manning and Assange (the latter may be a raging narcissist, but he sure set things in motion).
Those of us who sit comfortably in the West may debate whether these guys deserve praise or punishment, but humanity as a whole would be screwed without guys like Landmesser, Snowden & Manning