Philosophy over coffee

Ethics?

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2008 at 9:02 am

My evenings are slowly being taken over by movies. The Devil Wears Prada, Meet the Spartans, In Bruges, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, There Will Be Blood, and then Die Falscher (The Counterfeiters). And I thought I wasn’t a movie buff. I’m slowly realizing I might be after all. And foreign flicks, I believe, are occasionally more interesting.

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The winner of an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, Die Falscher brings us back to more than 50 years ago when the Nazis were still pronouncing hatred to the world and the Jews were still being eradicated.


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One of the toughest things in life is finding yourself torn between standing up for your principles, which oftentimes involves ethics, and serving self-interest for the sake of survival. This thought came back to mind after seeing Die Falscher, which is a movie about people in the concentration camps during World War II. Described by some as one story of Holocaust not usually talked about, this is a movie that showed how some prisoners of war were coerced to set aside their sense of morality in order to serve the Nazis and their mission. Moral corruption it is.

People need to live. They seek for survival, sometimes at the expense of other people’s lives. Moral corruption didn’t stop existing when WWII ended. It lives on in other people- the wealthy and powerful who seek to attain even more than what they need, at the expense of a society much more worse off. Even the poor lose their sanity. They rob, they steal, they kill. Then they run and hide. All for a meager amount of money that’s just enough to get them by for a day.

Nazi Germany was only a model, a microcosm of a universal evil that we witness everyday. In the news, in our own lives, even in the movies. What’s odd is that no matter how evil they seem, some still beg to differ and defend themselves. Shifting a bit from doing evil for some evil purpose to doing evil for a ‘noble’ purpose, they argue that they need to survive. If it’s a matter of survival, where do we draw the line as to what is right and what is wrong? Who are we to tell a mother who puts her life at risk of being incarcerated for years by stealing just to feed the mouths of his children? Who are we to tell a father who shoots someone just because he is threatened to be sentenced to death and he does so because what he had in mind at that very moment was fear of leaving his family to get by by themselves?

When does ethics become a tool powerful enough to convince people of the purpose it serves? And when does it become a tool even just enough for physical survival?

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