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1 or 10?

[Photo Execution by cenz]

Guest-post time again. Hi :)

Back in high school, we went on a class trip to one of those ropes courses, designed to build confidence amongst an existing team (classmates, co-workers, etc). Apart from the exhaustion and the rope burns, one of my takeaways from the trip was a question the guide posed to the group while we walked from one course to another. It's one I've asked folks about since then; one that very often yields very different answers. It's important to note that there isn't really a "right" answer here, just the one that rings most true to you. So. Some setup, and eventually the question..

You're alone, travelling through the jungle. Hidden back within the dense forest, you happen upon a village. The villagers are pleased as punch at your arrival. Their leader welcomes you to join them for an event later that evening, graciously inviting you to be the guest of honor.

But, there's something afoot.

Before you ever arrived, a crime had been committed by an unidentified villager. According to the village's history and custom, in cases where there was no suspect in such a crime, 10 people at random are selected from the inhabitants of the town. The 10 are to pay for the crime that the unknown person committed. One of the 10 may have done it. It's possible that none are guilty at all. But as a deterrant, they use this method to help prevent future crime, since you'd never know who will subsequently pay the price for any errant-action (possibly yourself?, your loved ones?, your neighbor?).

The event that evening, is the execution of their custom. Ordinarily, the local guard would be responsible for dispatching the 10 random folks selected from the populace. But, tonight, is different. There's a guest of honor present!

As their guest, they bestow upon you, a choice. An opportunity to determine the fate of the 10 that were selected. You are given a rifle, and told you may choose to kill any one of the 10 you wish. If you do, the remaining 9 will be allowed to return to their families, saved by your involvement. You may also decline the honor, and they'll continue on with the event as originally planned, saving none of the 10 by your non-involvement.

The question: 1? or 10?

Is it morally right (to you) to choose 1 to save 9? Or morally right to not get involved at all, leaving the members of the guard responsible for whatever orders they carry out?

Taking into consideration the village's history and custom, I would leave it in their hands. Every villager knows if a crime like this is commited and a punishment so severe exists, the deterrent is not working. So in that case, leave it up to them.

Hey Angela! Though I did not accept your bid on my blog, I did comment about your blog in a post on my blog. Thanks and please consider bidding again. Repeat bidders get priority.

There was a similar scenario played out in the prequel to the Exorcist.

I think I too would step aside, and let the village leaders do their job. A small part of my motivation would to not interfere with the local customs and traditions (hint, hint Pres. Bush), but I don't think I would be able to handle the responsibility of picking which *one* to shoot.

For me, personally, the initial decision is easy. I'd absolutely choose one, over choosing that they kill all 10. The villagers that knew and understood the process, and knew what it meant to have a guest arrive, also knew that there was a chance their (innocent) relatives would be saved -- part of the "honor"(?) that goes with the position. For me, a decision to walk, is still picking one to die. It's just re-making that decision an additional nine more times after the initial pick.

Here and there, I'll see folks say that they steadfastly cannot kill one, since it'd impact their path into Heaven (thou shalt not, and such). That by walking away, the penalty of murder is transferred to those doing the physical act itself. I'm honestly curious to understand how the differentiation matters. In wartime, a General might command soldiers to kill an enemy combatant. Who is responsible for the murder? In this situation, the leader is ultimately responsible for continuing the village's tradition.. and to me, is responsible for any of the deaths, whether (s)he commands you, or the members of the guard, to carry them out. (and possibly another step back to the person committing the crime, that truly kicked this whole thing off in the first place)


How to pick one? It's absolutely hard. Do you pick the youngest that hasn't had as much chance to impact the community yet? (but will, over their lifetime) Oldest? (and risk losing information that would've been vital to the survival of the group?) one of the men? the women? There might be reasons to choose any over the others... and while I think each would be a terrible choice to finally make, knowing I'd saved the other nine would be better than knowing every single one of the ten was going to die if I didn't. The youngest, oldest, and everyone in between, all gone.

I say let the 10 get bumped off. Any people stupid enough to live in this village knowing their methods of "justice," I have no sympathy for.

Plus, you can commit crimes and have a reasonable chance of not being punished yourself, either. :)

No wonder you wanted to use that pic, Loki. :)

I'm with Loki on this one. As hard as it would be, I would have to pick one in place of 10. The fact is, if I walk away from that situation allowing 10 people to die, even if I didn't physically pull the trigger, I might as well have. In that situation, not choosing to kill 1 IS choosing to kill 10. It is my view that if I neglected to kill 1, I would have the deaths of not only that 1, but 9 more individuals attributable to me.

My method of choosing the one would be to first ask for volunteers from the 10 chosen. They know their own society, its needs, strengths, and weaknesses, and if somebody volunteers, that's the person to go with. Otherwise, it's a random draw of straws (with one last chance for somebody to volunteer once it is discovered who drew the "short straw."

I wonder how many would have the strength to volunteer? Probably more than I think...

The opportunity to hand out a little frontier justice would be impossible to turn down.
I would dispense my judge, jury and executioner duties with extreme prejudice. The swarthiest male (ie the competition) would be dispatched in the twinkling of an eye.
Afterwards I would kill the elders and take over the village. I would generously donate my genetic material into every available female and begin my plans for taking over the neighbouring villages..then the country..then the next country.
This is how is exactly how it has been done for hundreds of thousands of years and I see no need to reinvent the wheel.

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