The question of a man, a dog and a cliff
“You are sitting on top of a cliff between a human being and a dog. You can only save one – do you choose the human being or the dog?”
I can’t answer that question without thinking about it. As much as I would like to live my life through reason and pure rational thinking, I never can. I live my life as an emotional being, meaning that everything I do, think and wish for is tainted by my emotions. This leads to many a contradiction and many a paradoxical way of thinking that sometimes surprises even myself, but I have come to terms with the fact that I may not always make sense to others. As long as I live my life the way I think is beneficial to myself and others, meaning that I will not do anything that will harm others, and will always treat others as I would expect to be treated myself, then I am OK with the fact that I may contradict myself.
For this reason, if someone asks me the question at the top of this page, then my answer will be another question: “who is the human being and who is the dog?”. If both were random beings, unknown to me, I would probably choose the human, even if it would break my heart to technically let the dog die. If it were a random human being, but my own dog I would most probably choose the dog. If it were a random dog and someone close to me I would definitely choose the human. If it were George Bush and a random dog I would most definitely choose the dog. And so on. My brother is not as wishy washy as me in his response: for him, his choice would be the human every time, as they are capable of reason, and therefore necessary to keep the planet moving (he will probably explain his thoughts on this better than I can, actually I prefer that he does, because even if they differ from mine they are very interesting). I would rather spend the rest of my life feeding and taking care of the dog than having to justify to myself that I was the person who saved George Bush over a dog. I mean if the choice were between Ted Bundy and the dog no one would bat an eyelid if I chose the dog would they? It wouldn’t even be for a “I prefer dogs to humans” perspective – for my own personal survival Ted Bundy would need to die. Because if him and I were the only two people left on this planet who else is he going to murder once his killing impulse sets in?
Thankfully I doubt that I will ever have to make the choice between Ted Bundy and a dog. Or George Bush and a dog for that matter. Or my sister and a dog. Or even an unknown human and a dog. Because, in the end, I would probably end up jumping over the cliff and saving myself having to make the choice. Does that sound stupid? Probably. But some choices are just too hard to make. But wait… I need to think back on that statement now… I live in a constant survival mode, where I prepare for the worst and hope for the best, so if I really were in a situation where I had to choose between a man and a dog, would I really prefer to die myself instead of making a choice I would have to live with for the rest of my life? Now I am questioning myself again. I would probably search for a way for us all to survive first, and then decide if my life was more important than the other beings lives. If the choice were between my sister and my brother I would prefer them to live rather than me. If it were between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, I may just go into survival mode and kick Romney off the cliff. I don’t know, I make choices through emotion not reason, so who knows what way the wind would blow if I were actually in the situation.
But what if I just walked away and let the man and the dog fight it out for themselves? Is that an option? That’s the way my mind has always worked – there is never a simple solution to a question. Logically I should be making a choice based on a reason of importance, right? But what is important to me may not be important to others. And I have just been sitting here for an hour wondering about a hundred different types of situations and determining whether or not I would let an animal or a human die, or let myself die to save others. There is no one situation where I could automatically say “him” or “her” without having to think about it properly. I can’t take a blank statement and attach it to a situation and always follow it through without letting my own personal thoughts and emotions take hold of me. And, to be honest, I don’t think I actually ever want to. In the end, I am me, and I accept that nowadays. Contradiction or not, that’s the way I am.
I just hope I never have to choose between a man and a dog.