Journal entrees for philosophy.

Posted: August 31, 2010 in Philosophical thinking.

I thought it would be cool to post what my responses are to questions asked to me in my college class. The question was if a terrorist group was holding people from your country hostage and threatening to start destroying them if you don’t hand over captured key military leaders, how would you handle the situation? Would you let the terrorist leaders go in exchange for your citizens? Or would you not negotiate?

When I first thought about it, an answer instantly sprang to mind. Don’t do it. Those 300 people inside that airplane aren’t worth the terrorists who have been plotting against us and killing many of our citizens. Besides, if we let them go, how do we know the terrorists will keep their word? And the people we released will be right back where they started, keep on plotting and terrorizing our people. Possibly even the ones released from the planes in the first place. There is no way we’d be getting the better end of the deal on trading citizens for terrorists.

But then I thought about something. Is that all these people are? Bargaining chips? Those are people on that plane. People who have lives and families just as intricate and special as yours. There are mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons on that plane. Can we just throw them away so carelessly without thinking about it. Logically it would make sense to sacrifice the few to save the many. But those are people on that plane, not statistics. In fact, just as our country has the same responsibility to keep the people safe inside our country from outside terrorists, we have the same responsibility for those people on that plane. They are our citizens; would we be just as wrong to give up their lives as we would 300 other people’s lives that the terrorists we released would kill before we caught them again? What if we released the terrorists and caught them before they were able to pull anything off? Would we intentionally kill 300 of our citizens just on the chance that maybe these terrorists we released would kill more than we could save? Looking at it this way, the logical choice would be to set them free.

I also thought about being on the plane. Putting myself in one of the passenger’s shoes. What would I want my country to do? Would I stand for what is right and say not to bargain with them, I’ll make the sacrifice? Or would I crumble under the pressure and want to sacrifice anything to get back home? Even if it meant the life of another?

Ultimately my decision comes down to not bargaining with the terrorists. You know sometimes bad things just happen. You cannot help it nor do anything about it. One can try their best to ease the situation, but when something is as black and white as this, the right thing to do is obviously not to negotiate. It may not be the most soft-hearted or look very pretty, but it’s simply what has to be done. The people on the plane and those associated with them have to understand that what they are sacrificing is for the greater good. Life is precious, but it is also unpredictable. We can only do our best to preserve what we have, even if it means letting a few go.


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