Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What Would You Do If Faced with a Moral Dilemma?

If you're like me, you'll watch movies or read books about the Holocaust and hope to God that if you had lived in Germany during those times, you would have done the noble thing and sheltered Jews or helped them escape from the Nazis.

Or if you lived in the south during the time of segregation, you hope that you would have stood up for African-Americans in their fight for equality and against racial hatred.

Harriet Tubman. Emma Goldman. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Freedom Riders. These are my heroes.

This past week, I read a book called The Hunger Games, and we watched "The Kite Runner" on DVD. The Hunger Games is a story of a dystopic world where children are forced to fight to the death in a perverted sort of "Survivor" game. Moral questions abound.

Those of you who have read The Kite Runner or seen the movie might remember the scene when Amir and his father were escaping from a Russian-occupied Afghanistan into Pakistan. A Russian soldier refuses to let the refugee-packed truck pass by unless he can have a half-hour alone with a woman who has just given birth. Amir, who has failed his own moral test in many ways, watches while his father stands up and comes to the woman's aid. He tells the Russian soldier that he will have to kill him first, because he will not allow any dishonor to occur on his watch. And the Russian soldier might have done so if he were not interrupted by his superiors.

It made me wonder, would I do the same, if I were in the same position? If I were the only protector of my only child as we were escaping a war-torn country? And if I were to die, what would happen to my child? What a horrible question to consider, and I hope to God I never have to face that kind of moral dilemma. Remember the scene in "Sophie's Choice" when Sophie is forced to choose between both of her children at the concentration camp, and the choice haunts her forever?

I can understand how she could never escape the guilt and trauma caused by that tragic choice. Just thinking about these things sends chills up my spine.

In my friend Christie's "25 Things About Me" on Facebook, she wrote that she's a wannabe pacifist, but that having her own children has brought out her "mama bear" side. But bears do not have morals...we can't help it.

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