November 30, 2007

Was it Worth it?


Hypothetical: A man is walking down the street and sees a girl about to be hit by a car. He jumps in front of the car and pushes the girl out of the way. She lives. He dies.

Was the sacrifice worth it?

The problem is that we only get to see the consequences of the reality and not the alternative hypothetical. What will she do with her life compared to what he would have done? How will his death affect others compared to how hers would have?

So, what about Iraq? This logic clearly can not justify the reasons for our intervention. But, it does bring up a interesting thought regarding what we should do now, and pondering whether our sacrifice was worth it.

Saddam Hussein, a man who was ethnically cleansing his country through mass rape and murder is no longer able to do so. How many people would have been killed had we not intervened? Could it possibly be more than have died in this war? Would he have bartered his way into a nuclear weapon by now? Would he have used it?

Or, let's say we walk out now, claiming that we can not stay in a situation we entered due to faulty information. Muslims around the world call it a religious victory awarded by God. The appeal of Islamic fundamentalism grows. What would be the outcome of that?

Unfortunately, we won't really know whether or not any of this was worth it. Because, we'll only get to see the outcome of one side, whichever one happens.

2 comments:

lauren said...

this sounds very machiavelli to me.
do the ends EVER justify the means?
were the people that we killed okay to kill because it would possible save someone else's life. if one's life more valuable to God than another? Do we put our faith in the myth of redemptive violence rather than a loving savior. do we limit the action of loving someone because of our belief in redemptive violence? does violence redeem, or has the violence that we ensued, as it always does, just added to the viscous cycle of "sides" trusting in redemptive violence?

I don't think "was it worth it?" is necessarily the right question to ask. that question supposes that an unknown ending will either condemn or justify whatever acts it took us to get there. that simply cannot be true. regardless of the good that may or may not come as the result of one act does not, nor ever will, justify the means to that end. whatever one has done, he has done, and one day he must stand in ownership of each his actions.

Sabai said...

Correct. That's why I said,

"This logic clearly can not justify the reasons for our intervention. But, it does bring up a interesting thought regarding what we should do now, and pondering whether our sacrifice was worth it."

The point is not the justify the means with the ends. The point is a rebuttal to the statement that "this has all been for naught."