1. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why do people so often risk everything to save a loved one?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by WriterDude, May 11, 2012.

    Not quite sure where to put this, so I'll just put it here. It can involve your stories too, for all I know. But the thing is, why do so many people sacrifice everything to save a loved one? The latest offender is a tv-show I saw recently. I won't name it to avoid spoiling it. I'm nice like that. :p But anyway, in the tv-show, a disaster was coming, and a lot of people risked death. There were only two people who could save everyone, and they could only do it by using a magical device. The problem? The person who invented the device knew perfectly well what was at stake and why those two people had to use it, and he knew the device could only be used twice. Even so, he sent his own nephew first. That meant only one of those two heroes could use it and be saved, which effectivly doomed everyone else. And think about the Hunger Games. Without spoiling too much, the second and third book wouldn't even have happened if Katniss hadn't been such a wimp. If she had accepted her fate and gone on a rampage like the rest, lots and lots of people would have survived. But nah, gotta save the loved ones. Sigh...

    That's just two examples, but this happens all the time. But why do people risk killing hundreds of people just to save one of their loved ones? Are people in general that stupid? Personally, I've always said the needs of the many is more important than the needs of the few. Even if that means a few people has to die, to save many. Please tell me that's not weird? :redface:
     
  2. Kay Lesgo
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    Kay Lesgo Member

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    People love seeing nobility in others. Sacrificing one's own life for another is so intriguing because few of us are capable of it. Sacrifice humanizes characters and makes us like them. Simple equation. And, especially in America, individual needs are not supposed to be over shadowed by the "needs of the many." If that weren't the case, the wheelchair, vaccines and many other advances would have never come to fruition, because the inventors would not have cared enough or would not have risked their own lives to save others.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Lives are not a simple matter of numbers. You mihght say it's okay to kill one person to save ten. What about killing a million to save a billion? That's a much more acceptable percentage, isn't it? But most would agree that killing a million would be a monstrous act, regardless of the motive.

    What if the issue is whether to save one now, or let a thousand perish later? Save the one now, and then try to save the thousand, even if there is little hope in succeeding.

    Your way sounds dreadfully cold, WD.
     
  4. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Many reasons. The first one is easy to demonstrate. Try to get between me and my wife...

    The second is altruism. You belong to a group which become brothers. You stand ready to defend them, because you know they will defend you.

    This philosophy also protects that segment often by doing nothing. Let's suppose you do not like the critique I did on your best zombie story. You want to bop me in the nose. You find out I'm in my favorite saloon, so you go there--only to find fifty bikes parked outside. Do you carry out your threat? Does any violence happen at all? Do we even know you're standing in the parking lot?

    The last reason is definition. What to one is a rebel, to another it's a freedom fighter. The victors write history. Some are Yankee Doodles, some are Tories.
     
  5. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    This has always annoyed me in books and such. Like, in Doctor Who, there are times when the Doctor would risk the world to save his companion, and while those always turn out alright (it's Dr Who, after all, and anything non-conforming to his self-righteous principles is of course wrong), it's really frustrating to have people say something like, "the world means nothing without you" as if that's an excuse to destroy the earth.
     
  6. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Gonissa, you obviously must love someone. And the numbers tilt somewhere.

    I can see having my wife attacked not by hundreds of citizens, but by three muggers. In that scenario, three is still more than one. Should three die to save one?
     
  7. Allan Paas
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    Allan Paas Contributing Member

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    They save them due to the emotions they receive when thinking of losing a loved one. How bad would you feel if you lost someone you love? One is certain, you would never forget it and it would always cause pain.

    In general, yes, people are that stupid.

    "The needs of the many is more important than the needs of the few." That is not entirely true. In case the needs of the many lead to the extinction of all of us.
    An example: give in to the demands of the many, the general people, because of that the planet's population grows too large. We exhaust our home, exhaust the resources, the planet becomes uninhabitable, and...
    Let many die now to save a few so those few could one day save many.

    It is right to listen to your emotion but wrong to act according to them in every single scenario. Emotions lead to actions but before acting you must think what the actions themselves lead to.
     
  8. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    This is the classic "sheep on the commons" gambit.

    Anytime I kill more than two to save any singular person, we are technically in deficit. So how many am I allowed to kill?

    Would you permit me to kill seven, but not eight?

    And if deficit survival allows at some point to trump a "number," than what's wrong with killing a thousand to save myself, or a million?

    My opinion is that I will personally make the decision. If I put it up to a vote, I might have to die. It would be easier to just kill all of the voters.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I might not kill the three, but they'd be in a world of hurt. But I wouldn't shed any tears if one of them succumbed.

    But there IS a difference between saving someone and not killing another. There really are very few circumstance where it is truly "this person dies, or millions of others die." One rare instance that comes to mind is the classic Star Trek episode, The City on the Edge of Forever. Kirk was literally faced with that choice, and he chose to sve the millions, though it broke his heart to do so.

    Usually, it is "this person dies, or millions will probably die." An entirely different equation.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Not to me. I choose life. If that life is predicated on the death of others, sobeit.

    I heard a good allegory, it demonstrates the thought process by using food. Let's take KFC as an example.

    You are obviously alive. You have eaten KFC. Let's say that you could look up from your dinner plate and see all of the chickens that have died to provide you with life and sustenance. Would there be ten thousand, fifty thousand? The author of that scenario ended it with something like, you smile and "wipe your chin."

    The movie "Unforgiven" discusses this theme. Eastwood defines killing someone as taking all he is and all he will ever be. Fair enough. That applies to me, too. I will not be a chicken for someone else's pot. Don't try to create a cogent rebuttal if this applies in real life, just seek cover.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think we're talking apples and poultry here, Tourist. The thread topic is about who do you (potentially) let die, not about killing N to save M.
     
  12. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Fair enough. I will agree that semantics is a part of every point of view.

    You know I choose life. You have a differing thought. There are thousands of members and lurkers here, you and I are individuals. The only way to settle this is to apply "reality."

    We could have a sacrifice for the good of the forum. You could choose me, and I'll choose you.

    I'll fight to the death, duh. But if you gladly offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses, then you win the debate. If you fight for your life, then I win. ;)

    How do you feel about letting people die now?
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm unconvinced my demise will benefit anyone. Now put that blade away, or your friends will hereafter know you as "Stumpy."

    No one dies. I merely disarm you.
     
  14. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I figured that might be your response.

    It's easy to sit here in a comfy chair, with a full stomach and academically discuss the "needs of the many." It's another thing to find your name on the ballot.

    I'm not marching into the ovens for anyone, under any circumstances.

    In 1979, fellow member Lenny Stone was gunned down and killed. I'm still alive. I am a survivor of this madness. Anyone who professes that life is merely an unpleasant equation that must be balanced is clearly unbalanced. It's a life. It is not foolish, it is not unfortunate. Somebody loves them.
     
  15. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    A lot of people can intellectualise this issue in the same way you did. But when they are actually faced with that situation, they react instinctivelly and save the loved ones. It's natural.
     
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  16. bakalove
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    bakalove Member

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    Well take it like this why would you care about the thousands of deaths that may have been caused by saving a loved one you most likely didn't know those people and they are most likely not directly effecting these characters and if the love between those characters is strong enough the thought of sacrificing them to save the thousands of other people would not even be an option
     
  17. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    One observation related to the topic is that it is easier to sacrifice oneself to save others, but it is more difficult to sacrifice loved ones no matter how noble the cause might be. Coming back to the topic I don't mind reading about sacrificing billions of lives to save a love one and vice versa, as long as I can read the subsequent quilt he feels either way.
     
  18. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly. For me, my loved ones are my world. If they are not alive, what difference does it make to me that one thousand strangers are going to survive in their place? If the Gestapo said to me, for example, we'll let your child live, but in her place we will kill 80 hostages, I'd be inclined to take the risk, even though I know this is terrible. Just being honest.
    Note: OP, do you not have kids or people you love that much? No offence, just wondering. Saving a loved one is a perfectly logical response to me but you don't seem to get the point of it.
     
  19. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Don't be too hard on him/her. After several years on forums I found an interesting thing that is often demonstrated by ideology like this. Let me explain.

    Forums have become international. Lots of them cater to both the USA and the UK, for example. I often see a clash of cultures. It truly baffles the UK (and I mean that in a sincere way) that so many Americans feel comfortable walking around with firearms. I carry everyday, even to quiet coffee bars.

    In many ways we are discussing a nation's heritage, not just the blood lineage of a 'family.' Americans bristle at any concept of 'giving in,' whether that be to new taxes, helmet laws or muggings. There's just something about telling interlopers to "cram it" that makes sense.

    I recently exchanged e-mails with a member from Canada. In like manner, he/she truly believes that "no guns means no violence." I understand the misconception, because lots of Americans believe, "an armed society is a polite society."

    I think this stems from a more basic aspect of culture. One group views themselves as subjects. The other views themselves as citizens. All decisions are made from those standpoints.

    And as it pertains to the OP, when faced with the 'common good,' I question the postulate from the git-go. I want to know just who died making them king. I want the prosperity of my family and compatriots to weigh in as equally valuable. And failing that, I'll take as many with me as I can. Just like on the Alamo chapel's battered walls.

    I believe this to be a singular and rare way to build a country. While the movie '300' is admittedly historical fiction, the basis is a true story. Repeatedly the concept of 'free men' is discussed.

    So in the seemingly academic confines of a creating writing forum, we drag our heritage around like Peter Pan's shadow. It is who we are. We might contribute to a charity, join a clean-up detail at our church, or form a bucket brigade in a time of crisis. We do so voluntarily and for a chosen cause.

    But believe some self-imposed academician with a lugubrious doctrine and the "the needs of many" windmill fuel, and he will learn about the practice we have called "liberty teeth" since the inception of our Republic. I don't think Americans can change our debating fundamentals on this, because that's who we really are.
     
  20. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Gah, double post...
     
  21. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Hey man, I'm not talking about guilty people. I'm talking about when a person risks hundreds of unknowns simply for their one. By all means, beat the crap out of the muggers. That'll teach them to mind their business.
     
  22. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I think first we need to agree -- most of us never have or never will be in this situation. If I am wrong in this assumption, I apologize in advance.

    *Note this may seem off topic, but I promise it relates to the topic at hand.* This conversation brings to a course I took on Post-Conflict African Literature. The text we were discussing was about Rwanda post-genocide. The author had interviewed both the victims and killers who were affected and involved in the genocide. We were discussing a chapter that focused on the story of a Hutu killer. This man massacred hundreds of Tutsis and at first glance, seems totally reprehensible. However, he was a poor farmer that the Hutu rebel forces "recruited" by threatening his family -- join us and kill strangers, or we kill you and your family. He chose his family.

    The students in the class were so hard on this man. Their argument was, he could have said no. He could have fought the rebels. But he agreed and killed hundreds. He is unforgivable. However, the next chapter focused on the daughter from a family he had killed. She had survived miraculously. And she forgave him. When I argued that I could understand the man's actions and the victim's reaction, it was virulently attacked and people thought I was disgusting. My argument was that he didn't have the social status or the privilege to say no. We had read about Hutus who owned hotels in the city and they opened them to save Tutsis. They had money. They had status.

    Bringing this back to the conversation at hand, it is easy for us to judge when we sit in our white towers. The majority of us have never confronted a situation like this (again, sorry if this is the wrong assumption and you are an outlier). This class was 100% white, middle-class students. None of us had inhabited a country where war had or currently taken place. None of us had ever served on the front lines. None of us had our own families threatened. It may not necessarily be more "noble" to save your family and let thousands die, but I think it is a more realistic reaction. And I think our position in the world reflects our reaction to a situation like this. And frankly, if someone said to me, it's your family or strangers, I'd choose my family over and over again.
     
  23. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Eh, that's a bit different, Miss. And he was still wrong, whether we think so or not. It's good he was forgiven, but that doesn't make what he did right.
     
  24. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    How is it different? And to clarify, my argument wasn't that his actions were acceptable, but more that they were understandable in terms of his position in the world.
     
  25. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Girl, I am so glad you came here to post on this issue! If for nothing else, it will show folks that people can have differing viewpoints, and still be civil!

    You do touch on a very important issue, in fact the defining issue. That is, a quiet, learned discussion from a position of safety. While I have never been locked up in a gulag, I have been locked up, and I have squared my shoulders in situations where I was not sure of the outcome.

    The operative word is 'fear.' Total, abject, leg-wetting fear. And if anyone tells you any different he's ignorant on the situation, or lying. You can say you'd like to enter Paradise, but 'taking the cruise' to get there is a daunting proposition.

    I admire men such as Audie Murphy. And knowing the events of his life, that such action comes at great cost. Mr. Murphy was driven by the love of his men. I do not have that talent. I'll defend a friend, but in most cases that's just taking a good beating. Mr. Murphy took the gun implacement of the dead man formerly at that station.

    Now, toss in the defining parameter of "for the good of society" and I can guaranty that you have the wrong man in me. I believe in what General Patton quipped, "A hero does not die for his country, he makes the other guy die for his."

    You want to walk the plank for 'the common good,' be my guest. I will not be joining you for the swim.
     

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