Saturday, September 27, 2008

Decision Making

A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track.

The train is coming, and you are just beside the track interchange. You can make the train change its course to the disused track and save most of the kids. However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed. Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make.................
Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child.You might think the same way, I guess. Exactly, to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally. But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was. This kind of dilemma happens around us every day. In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are.

The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

The great critic Leo Velski Julian who told the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens. If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe. If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

'Remember that what's right isn't always popular... and what's popular isn't always right.'


Anonymous said...

"A group of children.... ..let the train go its way?"
When i reached here, my first thought was - a straight 'let the train go it's way'. I thought the kid did not deserve to go where he was not destined to go...

Then, I thought- The track was left unused, probably because it was damaged. If I diverted the train, I would be risking the life of hundreds of passengers.

I categorically agree with your lines "the minority is often sacrificed... ... knowledgeable the minority are.

Some of my 'minority' views have led to arguments with friends and lengthy (yet healthy) discussions with my professors.

What I notice is that most people do 'not want' to look beyond a certain point. They believe whatever they know is the ultimate. And when someone shows them the unseen, they are not prepared to open up their minds to receive it...

- 'VTU-JRD' Connet :)

Robin said...

Sorry for the late reply. Had been busy for the last couple of days.

You did well with the puzzle there. Impressive! :)

Infact i am very passionate about minority issues myself, though i am not sure where do you stand on the same. I agree that people do not want to look beyond a point. Just look at the recent swiss referendum on minarets. Its weird as to how much intolerance is there amongst us all. Probably the reason why democracy sometimes suffers. Mistakes being made because of the majority decisions.