Tag Archive: Higher Purpose Clause


Suicide: A beginner’s guide

The world need's action!

The trouble with suicide is that it’s always being attempted by untrained amateurs, usually when they’re not in the right frame of mind to be trying anything quite so serious or dangerous. In fact, it’s almost a given that if you meet someone that has first hand, practical experience in the field, then you can be sure they’re not very good at it.
I think part of the problem is that many people turn to suicide when they’ve already failed at pretty much everything else. If you can’t get anything else right, why assume you can perform a decent suicide? I suppose at the time they just don’t care that much, which just adds to the problems.
I’m going to look at the most popular reasons for making an attempt. I figure if you’re not in one of these reasons, then you might as well not bother at all.

  • • Star crossed lovers
  • • Revenge
  • • Feeling a bit sad at the moment
  • • Incurable, terminal, and painful illness
  • • Being danger to others

Star crossed lovers

Without you, I'm nothing
This one is pretty common, particularly in works of fiction. People who lose love or for some reason can’t be with the one they love decide that the only course of action left to them is suicide. Romeo and Juliet are probably the most famous examples of lovers that can’t be together deciding to take their own lives, but they’re not the only ones. Loreley is supposed to have thrown herself into the Rhine on the same kind of premise and I’m sure there are plenty of others.
While this kind of juvenile behavior is often painted as the height of romance and somehow noble, the truth of the matter is that it’s just plain stupid. Romeo and Juliet were a pair of whiney, self centered, overly dramatic children who managed to kill themselves out of dumb luck more than anything. I for one was glad they were dead; at least it shut them up.
The point is that no matter how it might read in a romance novel, dead bodies are never romantic or beautiful. If Shakespeare had described an accurate scene, in which the two dumb teens vomited and shat themselves before curling up on the floor like rodents to die, I’m sure people would be put off the romance of it. But I suppose that’d spoil the mood of his story.
In conclusion: If you think you might be considering the star crossed lover approach, just give it up – have a cold shower and go out and meet someone that’s not stupid enough to poison themselves.

Revenge

I figure this one is more common than people want to admit. This is where someone does something nasty to you and treats you wrong and so you decide you’re going to be all dramatic and kill yourself.
“I’ll show them!” you think in a fit of righteous fury “they’ll be sorry when I’m dead!”
Actually, they probably won’t; at least, not half as sorry as you’ll be in the seconds before you die.
If you’re thinking to yourself that revenge isn’t the reason you’re considering it – then check everyone you know – are you doing everything in your power to make it as painless for them as you possibly can? Have you considered all the shit they’re going to have to deal with? I’ll tell you this: finding dead bodies is not a pleasant thing to do, particularly if it’s someone you know. Imagine each person you know is the one to find you all cold and urine stained in the corner. If you feel even slightly vindictive about the trauma that person would suffer – then there’s a little bit of revenge in your reasoning. To be honest, if it’s a revenges thing, you might as well go the whole way – why not get a tattoo on your face that says “I did this because my brother beat me at scrabble” and then hang yourself from his bedroom light fixture?

.... and I wanted diet coke, damnit
If that idea sounds stupid, it’s because the whole premise is stupid. Killing yourself to hurt someone else is about the most stupid thing you can do. If they really do hate you – then they win. And if they don’t hate you then you both just lose. The people you seek to hurt aren’t responsible for your life – you’re the one that has the most to lose. Just give it up – go create yourself a better life and beat them by just being happy.

Feeling a bit sad at the moment

On the bright side, at least we got ice cream
I guess this is quite common too. People get depressed or blue and decide that they don’t really like being depressed. So they hurt themselves. It’s a bit silly really because being depressed in a temporary state. I’ve been sad before. Sure, it’s no fun being sad and sometimes you just want it to be over, you don’t think you can take it anymore. Turns out that you can. You can clear things up and be happy again. Unless of course you kill yourself. In which case you just stay sad. Maybe you make some other people sad too. Maybe nobody cares. But you are responsible for your own happiness and it’s there when you want it.

I’m not going to say you can just decide to be happy one day and it’ll just happen. I know that’s not the way it goes. However I will say this: It does get better.

When I say “feeling sad” I mean any number of states of emotional  trauma. This covers sadness, guilt, shame, and even fear. Sometimes you might be so afraid of something that dying seems less scary that facing whatever it is that really scares you. Hell, there are some things that I know I’d rather die than face. Yet, I figure that fear can be overcome. You don’t want to fold out as a coward, and whatever you’re guilty of, it’s done now – being dead ain’t gonna help.

Incurable, terminal, and painful illness

Some people are in constant and endless physical pain with no hope of ever being healed. Usually they are very old and have lived well and decide that now is the time to move on. I think you’ll know if you’re in this position. Pain is scary and it can make life feel like a burden. I’ve never been in quite that position, so I can’t say how I’d handle it – but I can say this: I have been injured to the point where I didn’t think I would recover. I lay in the dark in terrible pain and wished it could be over more quickly. However, I did recover, and now I’m glad I didn’t take action based on that wish.

Being a danger to others

Some people just know they’re dangerous. In their calm rational moments they fear that they’ll later lose control and hurt those they love. These kinds of people are, luckily, pretty rare. Most people are pretty good at not hurting others, just getting on with life in an orderly fashion. Those that can’t play gently are usually locked up for the good of everyone else. But if you knew you were that person…. If you knew you were that loose cannon…. What would you do? You could invoke the higher purpose clause – kill the one in favor of the many. But even if you decided that it was the right thing to do – could you do it?

If you're gonna shoot yourself in the mouth, you might as well be half naked, right?

I figure that everyone has thought about it at some point in their lives. I don’t mean, actually seriously considered it. Just thopught about it. Has the thought ever crossed your mind, just in passing?

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The higher purpose clause

What is the higher purpose clause?

Well, is an argument used by many religions, governments, and even individuals to justify doing something that is clearly wrong, on the grounds that it is for the greater good.

The Higher Porpoise Clause

Not to be confused with the Higher Porpoise Clause

“We’re going to build a new dam and flood your village to make a reservoir so the people in the next town have clean water.”

Well, shucks. It sucks to live in that village.

In many cases that’s as far as it goes, some authority or other balancing the needs of different groups and deciding to screw one in favor of the many. I guess that’s just progress.

However, the real danger of the Higher Purpose Clause is that it can easily be used to justify almost anything.

Let’s start with a trivial example

Imagine that there is a person with a bomb and they are about to kill ten people. The only way you can stop this person is to shoot them before they set off the bomb. You know that if you shoot, you will kill the aggressor. Chain of argument goes: this person is a murderer; I can save ten innocent lives; the only person who comes to harm is a killer; so I’ll shoot.

(I know, there’ll always be those who wouldn’t shoot – those who’d let the killer blow up the innocent people, but we’ll assume for now that you’re not one of those – we’ll see what happens to those people later)

Fine and dandy. You’d save the innocent many by killing the killer.

So let’s take the same scenario up a notch, shall we?

Let’s say that rather than one person set to kill ten people, you have a group of ten people about to kill one hundred people. You can save all one hundred people by blowing up the ten killers with a handy bomb.

Handy Bomb

Oooh, handy!

The moral argument is still the same, you save ten times as many people as you kill and every person that you kill is in fact a killer being prevented from acting out the murderous plan. Only there’s a catch. If you agree that you should blow up the ten, I’ll shoot you.

What?

You have just become the aggressor in the first example.  Therefore, while you feel morally ok about blowing up ten people, I feel morally ok shooting you to prevent it.

The problem here is a lack of information. If you knew the whole picture and you could see everyone’s intent, then a clear course of action for the greater good could be made. Even in this trivial example, it’s easy to get caught out. So what happens in the real world where things are so incredibly complex? Well… soldiers blow the shit out of hospitals and schools; they kill hundreds of thousands of civilians in a vague hunt for a handful of people they probably won’t even recognise if they found. Then politicians put a snappy strap line on it and sell it as Righteous and Good. The higher purpose clause at work – don’t worry about those foreign civilians, it’s for the greater good of the free world.

Hey, it's just like the real thing....

Bombing the hospital looses you 1000 points, but that's ok because you can get those back by boming the school...

So what’s the alternative?

Quite simply: Do no wrong.

Each act should be good in its own right, without further justification. It’s wrong to kill, so if the bomber is about to kill ten people, you let that happen. The bomber may do wrong, but that’s no reason to also do wrong.

The trouble with this philosophy is that if you follow it, you get fucked.

You can probably get away with it in a large city if you’re careful and lucky and hide in obscurity, because you’ll never need to do wrong. You can probably get away with it if you live on a mountain where nobody will trouble you.

However, we still live in a world where some people exist in poverty and others live like Emperors. If you’re reading this then on a global scale, you’re probably an Emperor (or at least, a well off noble of some kind). Without the will to defend yourself and your country, you will be dragged down into the darkness. So you must fight, or at least condone others to fight on your behalf.

“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

So what’s the answer?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’d like to say that you should do something, but do no wrong. In practice that’s not how I behave at all.

If I’m walking down a dark alleyway in the night and I’m confronted by a man with a knife I have the same options. If I do nothing – I get fucked –  evil wins. If take care to do no wrong, I put myself at risk and I probably get fucked – evil wins. So what do I do? I fucking kill him. I don’t feel bad about that. If I were to invoke the higher purpose clause I could say that I am protecting innocent women; that if just made my escape and let him go then next time he might attack a girl that couldn’t defend herself. But that’s not it. That’s not why I’d do it. I’d do it because I would be fighting to win. I would be defending myself with no holds barred. If I let him go he might follow me. My intent would be to end any threat to myself. Because of this, if I knocked him down and he wasn’t getting up again, the situation would be altered and I could walk away.

The higher purpose clause would murder him while he was down. That’s why I don’t trust it.

The difference is – if he runs away – I won’t follow him.

So what’s the answer?

I guess you pay your money, take your choice, hope things all work out in the end…