Thursday, February 24, 2011

Saving Yourself or Saving Others

With all the talk about whether it is moral to lie to save others. I wonder how many people would refuse to lie to save themselves. If somebody pointed a gun at you and told you to tell a lie would you do it? Catholic theology says we should be willing to die rather than commit one sin. But how many of us would make that choice? How many people would criticize somebody for not choosing martyrdom over a lie. Certainly in the case of rape it would be unthinkable to argue that the morally correct choice was for the woman to choose death rather than cooperate with the rape. That kind of heroic virtue does happen and we rarely find out about it but we don't expect it. We don't put somebody up for public ridicule when they don't make that choice.

So what is the difference? We understand moral compromise to save ourselves. We don't understand it near as well when the goal is to save others. You balance your respect for the truth against your love of your own life and normally your love of your life wins. But when somebody balances respect for the truth against their love of another person's life then we can't understand how they can make such a choice. We go on and on and on about how immoral they are. Maybe it is not because we are so much better lovers of truth. Maybe it is because they are better lovers of the unborn or Jews or whoever else is in the scenario.

I remember reading the Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom did lie to help the dutch underground against the Germans. But she refused to do anything that involved killing. That seemed strange to me. Why was lying justified by the circumstances and killing was not? Principles are hard to find.

We do have something in Catholic morality called the just war doctrine. War is certainly immoral but sometimes it can be justified. Can resisting evil be more generally justified? When the gravity of the evil being fought outweighs the gravity of the evil being committed and the possibility of success is high? If Live Action had told a more serious lie then it would not be OK. If they told a pregnant woman that an abortion would cost her $1000 when, in fact, it would be free. That would be immoral even if the expected result was to save the child. Why? Because giving false information is worse than creating a staged situation.

I am open to the idea that Live Action might have crossed a line. I am not open to the idea that there is no line. If I was in Elizabethan England and a priest was hiding in my home. He tells me not to lie to save him. I would still lie. It would be a cowardly not to. Could I watch him be tortured to death and feel like I did the right thing? Not a chance. I would feel like I did the selfish thing. It is good for him to tell me not to lie. He should not expect it of me. But I should do it, Especially if I had good reason to expect them to believe me and move on. If I knew they would search anyway that would be different.

I understand people feel that allowing any prudence into the picture opens the door to abuse. The just war doctrine allows people to justify pretty much any war. They just stretch the criteria and they can convince themselves they did the right thing. This is open to abuse too. But absolute rules have their problem too. If it is possible to punish a child to much then people run to the position that no child should ever be punished. Proportionate response requires an honest assessment of the situation. We tend to become Calvinists and assume everyone is totally depraved and incapable of right reason. But we need right reason to be moral. Absolute rules will not do.


  1. I really enjoy your depth of perception about life lived.. All my life I have given more then I received in service to others..In my heart as deep Lutheran saying saving others before oneself.. Where it got me is desperately ill health for seven years now as in most cases they always protect themselves , rather then you called love lived, which I have studied all my life the degenerate mind..Even in religious use age as I have gotten many youth out of Christian occults.
    This thinking actucallly got me in trouble as being pure thought as an easy prey In America.. I have been in exhile over seven years now- desperately ill from very severe beatings for more being so spiritually pure in love to save others before myself all my life.. Including legally condoned sodomist rapists winning legally me as Jane Doe I- Look up Doctor Carl Bergstrom on Gooogle from Carmel California-( Clints town known world wide as mayor) My x boyfreind- Look up Homescapes Carmel- Beau Finklang was in full collusion to annilaite my entire family in 2004- from a very high classs background put on teh streets over night -Loosing everything- I was Dr. Bergstroms his first victim with full evidence for conviction, to avoid four more rapes-as Dr.Bergstrom is in jail now for eight years six years after me..Covered up of course. oh no they used dirty cops to beat the living shit out of me.. As I protected Clint Eastwoods legacy and know Senator Fienstien working for human rights beings everally disabled me - hitting semis for fun. Is why my life was targeted as a political activist and writer under the 1990 disability act. I'd like to corrrespond via email as an outsider looking in U.S. greeed and life as disposable for ones profit and gain at any cost to human life - using high paid attorneys and the secret clubs future financial profits .
    Most crimes are committed in the name of hummanitarian effforts is how toltarian control. I have to read more of you r work which I find very interesting- email me at exhile for over six years.abroad. from death threats given which I can explin in depth if interested.. I have no -one to talk to that thinks beyond the vail of false care or love.

  2. I am not sure I completely understand what you are talking about here. You seem to say you are being abused in some way. If this is true then you need to get help. Chatting about it on a blog is not enough. Talk to someone. A policeman, a doctor, a priest, someone real. Not someone on the internet.

    I am glad you enjoy reading my stuff. God bless you.