Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What You Dare Not Ask

“The mentally disabled are better off dead.” Shocking statement, isn’t it? Don’t you want to just yell at whoever said that and accuse them of wanting genocide and being unfair to a large group of our population? Don’t you want to argue on the behalf of the mentally disabled?

In a well-intentioned attempt to be fair and just, our society has become afraid of even discussing certain topics. We’re afraid of discussing touchy subjects because we’re afraid of the conclusion. And often the most logical utilitarian conclusion (the one that benefits the most people the most) is not the most humane nor may it seem more just. Imagine, if you will, that you are the leader of a population of 100 people. You have the option of keeping all 100 people alive but sick and sad, or keeping 90 people alive and healthy by killing (murdering or sacrificing, depending on how you look at it) the 10 weakest. What would you do? Would your decision change if it changed to 50/50? What if you were the one that had to end the 10 lives.. what if you weren’t and didn’t even have to acknowledge that it happened… if you had “people” that “made it happen” while you focused on the 90 happy lives that you had cured.

Before I delve further, I want to put a disclaimer that I am merely musing about this topic. I am not stating my beliefs, merely making observations and using what seems to be logical thinking to state certain ideas that form. I personally believe that we, as humans, do not have the authority to end another human’s life. Nothing makes me better than any other human being, so who am I to decide whether someone deserves to live or die?

However.. going back to the previous example, for the sake of the majority, the minority can be sacrificed. This often happens in war where we call them “casualties of war,” innocent people that die so that millions can be saved. So what about the weak? If all humans suffering from genetic diseases were to die, or be killed, those genetic diseases would be obliterated. In theory. If all humans with the HIV virus were killed.. HIV would be eliminated and there would be no innocent children born with the virus through no fault of their own. Again, to clarify, this is NOT what I think should be done by any means. But can you see a glimpse of how someone may be able to reason that this is the solution and thus try to implement it not for malicious reasons but for the benefit of the masses?

The wonderful thing (and often confusing thing) about being human is that the world isn’t black and white. Thankfully, we don’t have to decide between just 2 hard decisions, we can use our creativity and cumulative learning abilities to come up with new and different solutions. Ways around the problem or ways to solve the problem. For example, with HIV, we’re searching for cures and teaching prevention methods.. But what if you couldn’t… what if you only had 2 choices… what would you do? What would be right? Or would one just be the lesser of 2 wrongs? Does that make the better of the 2 wrongs the better choice… and thus the right one?

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