Thursday, 27 April 2017

Life: the tl;dr version

Yesterday I published a post about some thinking I've been doing about the question "What should I do with my life?"

It was a bit long, so I figured a tl;dr version might be helpful. Essentially, it boils down to this:

People should have a hierarchy of moral rules to live by, in the form of an ideology or - in my case at least - a combination of ideologies.

I recently re-watched the Aaron Sorkin-penned film A Few Good Men, and last night it occurred to me that this film is about exactly the same thing.

Take the following scene:

Here's the script, from IMDB:

Yeah, yeah, alright. Harold, did you 
assault Santiago with the intent of 
killing him?

No sir.

What was your intent?

To train him, sir.

Train him to do what?

Train him to think of his unit before 
himself. To respect the code.

What's the code?

Unit Corps God Country.

I beg your pardon?

Unit Corps God Country, sir.

The Goverrment of the United States 
wants to charge you two with murder. 
You want me to go to the prosecutor 
with unit, corps, god, country?

DAWSON stares at KAFFEE.

That's our code, sir.

Dawson says Marines have a code - a set of moral rules by which to live - and Santiago didn't follow it. And this code is even a hierarchy: the unit comes first, then the corps, then god, then the USA.

Tom Cruise's character is exasperated by this, but the moral of A Few Good Men is not necessarily that having a code is wrong - it's that this particular code is wrong.

Here's the script from almost the final scene, after Dawson and his colleague have been found not guilty of murdering Santiago, but guilty of conduct unbecoming a Marine, even though they followed a direct order:


We're supposed to fight for people
who can't fight for themselves.

We were supposed to fight for [Santiago].

That is: their code should have been: people who need help, the unit, the corps, god, country.

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