Several days ago, I had a conversation with a friend from Japan. I asked about the situation there after the tsunami, she said, “The hopelessness is more terrible than the disaster. ”
She told me a story.
A man was in an important position to help save the town where his family lived.
When the disaster happened, he could either quit doing his job or go back home to save his wife. But in that case, more people’s lives would be claimed. He chose to stay in his position instead of going back home. His two children were evacuated and saved at school but his wife died. When he was talking on TV, he cried with guilt and shame. He felt like it was his obligation to stay and save the town, but he could not forgive himself.
A classic value debate topic is: is it justified to sacrifice one life to save a thousand? People have argued on this topic for thousands of years but are still not able to get an absolutely correct answer. It looks rational to sacrifice one life and save a thousand because a thousand is a larger number than one. However, what if the one person you sacrificed is able to find the vaccine for HIV and then change millions of human lives? What if you saved the thousand whom you’ve never known but sacrificed the love of your life? It looks ethical, but what will come to fill the sadness, darkness and emptiness in your heart? We cannot weigh lives the way we weigh vegetables. Ten pound tomatoes are worth more than one pound, but a life may not weigh less than a thousand. That’s where the confusion and anguish come from.
Situations that the Japanese man faced is a dilemma, a dilemma of life and death, a dilemma of morality and love for his family. He could not give up any of them but he had to.
I do not know how to answer a question like, if your mother and your children are drowning in a river, and you can only save one, whom will you save？I avoid looking for the answer because I don’t want headaches. The debate on this dilemma will never end. I wish I will never have to face dilemmas like this in life, but if I do, no matter what I choose, there will be a hole in my heart filled with sadness, and no one can explain the reason except my sign to myself: after all, this is a fallen world.