So RayAlome and I were chatting yesterday. It started with Christian Bale and what he did to transform from his role in The Machinist (130lbs) to his role in Batman Begins (230lbs) in just 6 months. Anyway, the topic went onto Terminator Salvation and if we could program a simple rule into robots (i.e. to never kill), what would it be to avoid what happens in Terminator? The topic continued on to discuss good vs evil; right vs wrong; what are ethics and morals. I pointed out that ethics/morals are nothing more than a set of social contracts that society has deemed to be correct. Even something as simple as the 10 commandments could be easily interpreted differently and that’s just a problem inherent to any human language. And even with those rules, there’s always exceptions (i.e. are you allowed to kill the baby, in order to save the mother?).
This reminded me of a set of quotes from The Kite Runner I had wanted to blog about in a review, but just never got around to it. I have a lot of respect for the father character in this movie.
When Amir (his son) questions his father that drinking [alcohol] is a sin, the following reply was superb:
There is only one sin. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft.
When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to her husband, his children’s right to a father.
When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth.
There is no act more wretched than stealing.
RayAlome quickly pointed out that does this mean you are not allowed to steal to save your starving family, or to steal to save someone’s life? I responded by saying, it’s never been about to never sin. It has more to do with the degree of the sin. And the following quote gives a good example of when committing one sin is excusable to prevent a bigger sin from occurring:
When a Russian soldier demands to have sex from a woman (who also happens to be a wife and mother) for safe passage through the border, Amir’s father stands up and says (do note there is a translator here):
Father: I want you to ask this man something. Ask him where his shame is.
Russian Soldier: He says, there is no shame in war.
Father: Tell him he is wrong. War doesn’t neglect decency.
Russian Soldier: He says he’d enjoy putting a bullet in you, almost as much as he’d enjoy her.
Father: I’ll take a thousand of his bullets before I let his indecency take place.
Son: Baba, please, he’ll shoot you.
Father: Have I taught you nothing? (back to translator) Tell him he’d better kill me good with the first shot. Because if I don’t go down, I’m tearing him to pieces, goddamn his father!