This article is indebted to and inspired from a scene in the Netflix series “Greenhouse Academy“.
Imagine a hypothetical situation where you need to make a life or death decision. It’s going to be complicated. Try to visualize a train having twenty innocent people on board. The train is trying to cross the tracks, but there are 5 innocent people on the crossing of the tracks who found it a good spot to stop and enjoy some music for a while. The train is going to crash into the car proceeding the death of the 5 oblivious people having a good time with some loud music. You have a decision to make. You can redirect the train onto a different path, which will make the train crash into a large, strong wall resulting in the death of the 20 people on board the train or you can let the train crash into the car killing 5 people.
What will you do? This may be a relatively easy hypothesis to answer. Sacrifice the 5 people in the car to save the many. Easy, right? But let me make this a little complicated. Of the 5 people in the car, two of them are your parents, or anyone in your family who’s really close to you, maybe your closest friend, your husband, wife, child, parents. Anyone who’s very dear to you. They are the ones in the car, coming home to see you. What will you do now. The train’s moving pretty fast. If you waste time thinking, death, for the 5 people in the car—whom are extremely dear and precious to you—will be inevitable. So what will you do?
Will you base your decision linked on how close you are to the person? Would you rather save your best friend to let someone else’s best friend die? (x 4 because of the 20 people being on board)
Now, if you’ll pardon my “complication”, let me make this even harder. Of those 20 people on the train, one of them is a young scientist who is just about to find the cure to cancer. If he dies, his research would be delayed for years, perhaps even decades.
What will you do now? You know the choices. You know the consequences. Do nothing, kill 5 people you love. Move the tracks, kill 20 people, of which one’s work is about to find a cure for cancer.
There’s no time to think.
You have to decide. The train’s moving towards the car and it won’t stop.
10 seconds…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… boom.
Well, you may have thought of an answer. And you must have chosen from one of the three choices which you believed served most justice. What, did I just say 3 choices? Wait a minute… Weren’t there only two choices? To move the tracks and cause the train to crash into a wall resulting in the death of nineteen people and a scientist about to find the cure to cancer. Or to let the train crash into the car resulting in the execution of your parents, spouse or best friend. Where’s the third choice
There had always been a third choice. If I had to make a choice, I would go to the car and remove the 5 people out of the car and let the train crash into the empty car. The train, sooner or later, would come to a halt due to it’s impact from the car. No one, the 5 people from the car or the 20 people, including the one about to find the cure for cancer, would get hurt — except the car… rest in peace — I’ll get my family. And the world, a whopping leap in the field of medicine.
There’s always another choice.
You just need to think it through. But be quick because the train, in any situation, will keep moving if you don’t do anything, and will cause disaster if not stopped.
There’s always another choice.