The lesser evil and the greater evil

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Adrian Zaharia – Ps. Drd. in Theology

The secret services – CIA, Mosad, MI 6, KGB/FSB invoke sometimes to the crimes for guiding things in the desired direction. Their reason: pursuing the supreme good of the nation.

Churchill didn’t notify his countrymen about German’s attack. His vindication: Germans didn’t have to find out that the Crown’s espionage had intercepted their plans. Although the losses suffered by the British were massive, that  would stop greater subsequent losses.

Atomic bombing from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, authorized by Truman, had similar reasons: deterring aggressive expansion of Japan. 

Between a greater evil and a lesser evil… what do you choose? You probably answer: the lesser evil, for sure!

The concept is known as the second instance ethics.

At present, the situational ethics has been implemented almost everywhere. It suggests that there is no absolute moral norm; you have to do all best for you in the given situation. Hollywood’s movies follow un unmistakable pattern: killing some means saving others. Even though the ethics of the first instance it is that way ignored – that area of ethics where the white is white, the black is black, the crime is crime and well doing is well doing!…

The controlled use of the bad methods seems to bring advantages always. And in any field. Ignacio de Loyola, a person with an obvious religious profile, creates in the Church, and for the benefit of the Church – a maneuvering field with no limitation to the Machiavellian dictum “The ends justify the means.” In the name of the absolute good. For the benefit of … God! 

Really?

But things are not so simple.

Ironically, when Carter banned assassinations executed all over the world by the C.I.A., in the following period, terrorist attacks, state overthrows and other criminal acts had multiplied all over the world.

A mother is pregnant again. But she has tuberculosis, and the conception comes from a father infected with syphilis. The two spouses come to ask you if in these circumstances it would be advisable for them the abortion. What do you say to them? If you are that kind of person who recommend the abortion, congratulations! You’ve just condemned Beethoven to death!

What are the features someone should have in order to validate the claim of being that kind of supreme instance – able to decide what’s good and what’s wrong for others?

In France – a village, Le Chambon. Unlike others French villages of the 1940s, the inhabitants there did not deliver the Jews to the Nazis. Wondering what kind of people they should be, risking their lives for such deeds, Phillip Hallie, ethicist, creator of the concept of institutional cruelty, decided to visit the village. He interviewed people. And he was surprised to find out that these people had nothing extraordinary regarding their courage. They were not that kind of… heroes! The only thing that could explain their behavior, in Hallie’s opinion, was the fact that they attended regularly the Sunday worship services held in the small village church, listening to the biblical sermons of the pastor Trochme! Over the time, they have simply been accustomed to recognize the good and to practice it. When the Nazis appeared into their village, they did what they knew it was right.

Ethics of the first instance?… Ethics of the second instance?…

There is only one model humanity invariably follows: in times of crisis, people react the way their heart is used to!…

Churchill’s decisions are Churchill’s decisions, Truman’s are Truman’s, and ours can probably take into account the fact that between a greater evil and a lesser one, we can choose The Good! Even if, almost always, the right thing is the hardest one.

Adrian Zaharia, for OPINIA PRODUCTION.

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