Bookmark #909

When talking of ethical dilemmas, they often put forth the trolley problem. If you are not familiar with it, you must choose to kill a few to save the many or the other way round; of course, there is no right answer. I argue it is not even the right problem. It is not something we face on the day to day, and most people would never find themselves in the situation or the power to make such grand and vexing decisions. An accurate alternative to it would be this: You are the train—and if anthropomorphism feels a tad too much—you are the driver. The train is running headfirst into a wall. You do not know why the track ends in a wall, but you must, in the split-second it takes for you to run into it, make your peace with this unfortunate circumstance. If you have to do something, you may try to pull the brakes. And no, the brakes are not shot. They work perfectly well. It is possible for you to stop the train—and if you are the train and not the driver, then yourself—and avoid this collision course. Why, then, can you not stop?

This is a more relatable dilemma, and I believe many of us will understand this far better. Most lives are spent in impossible situations, sloping into rather unfortunate results, and we rush into them like the train running into a wall. We know this will derail everything. It is, in fact, the only thing that can happen. Yet, it does not occur to us to pull the brakes, and even if it does, it seldom is as easy. It is simple. But simple things are not always easy. And there are many explanations and answers to this; I am aware and quite certain of it. Perhaps the more sacrificial of us would argue it may be why the journey began in the first place, that there was nothing wrong with the situation, that there was some grand plan, and that the train running into the wall is a part of it. The rational would argue the plan is flawed. The nihilistic would not see the point in making the decision at all. The helpless and the unsure would not know if they could pull the brakes at all, or if they could do it right and, thus, would be paralysed.

And those like me will find beauty in the destruction and the debris; we will write ballads about it.

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