Saturday, August 7, 2010

Justifying War

I read an interesting article in the Phila Inquirer yesterday. It discussed the upcoming 65the year anniversary of the use of atomic weapons to hasten the end of WWII. It struck me that the writer of the article was using an ends-justifies-the-means defense of the use of these weapons just as I have used that theory as the basis for The Archives. I sent the following e-mail to the writer in hopes of beginning a personal correspondence with him about mankind's continued use of force and killing to improve the world. Please feel free to add your thoughts as well.

Mr. xxxxxx,

I recently wrote a story (which I have attached) set in a futuristic world where all people and nations are at peace with one another. However, the peace has resulted from an external threat as opposed to a unification based on mutual respect and love. I won't give away the ending twist but you will probably be able to guess it before you read it based on the remainder of this e-mail.

One of the comments I received about my story was that it reflects a classic ends-justifies-the-means scenario.

Which brings me to this e-mail. One could debate that your article also reflects an ends-justifies-the-means defense of the mass killing of tens of thousands of Japanese civilians in order to save thousands of American soldiers.

In my story, literally billions of people are sacrificed to enable the future existence of humanity. The most compelling discussion I had about the story centered on the opinion that there is no way to know the aggregate potential of all those killed, a potential which may have included someone who may have found a cure for a horrible disease, or someone who may have written an inspirational story, or someone who may have been able to unite mankind in a peaceful way without the sacrifice of life.

So, I would ask you the same question. How do you know what potential was killed by the detonation of those bombs? What disease may have been cured or story may have been written or leader who may have developed but was not due to the tremendous amount of loss of life which occurred on those fateful days?

Don't get me wrong, I am not debating your point of view that the bombs were necessary. In my story, I have only fictitiously killed the innocent to evoke a better world. Having to decide to do it in real time, is, as they say, above my pay grade. But perhaps that is the point; how does one get qualified to make such decisions. And from that perspective, perhaps no one has the moral authority to send young men and women to fight and kill the young men and women of other countries. Labeling them Nazis or Japs or terrorists, doesn't change the fact that they are people with the potential for good as well as bad.

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