Sunday, June 24, 2007

Humanity versus genius

I just can't let it alone.

I read a book a while back, and a seed was planted in a way that only great ideas can bring about. A good seed planted among the thorns.

I'm sure it was a self help book, as I was "into" them about that time. I have tried to google to give the author credit, but just don't have the time or patience today, so if anyone is familiar with it (ala needle in a haystack style), PLEASE let me know. I think it was a woman, who, like many others, changed my head.

It is a parable of sorts, as all good teaching is.

She gave an example of a boat in which there were three people: Herself, an old man, and a young child, (I'm taking a tremendous amount of creative license here as I can't recall the particulars...) and a painting by a great artist, let's say for my sake, Rembrandt van Rijn. I can't find my true favorite of his, so this may somewhat color the story for me.

She is the captain of the boat, and must stay on in order for the boat to make a safe return. But the boat is overloaded. One of the three (two people or the painting) must go. She must make the decision.

She said there was a time in her life, when she would have let the old man go, thinking he had lead a good life, and a priceless work of art for the ages would be saved.

But because of a change of heart(or head), she tells the story again later in the book and insists that she would ALWAYS choose the human life. There were no ifs, and s or buts about it. ALWAYS.

Do we sometimes choose ideas over people?


Vicky said...

Hi Rose,,

I have been reading you past posts on your blog.. Sorry I didn't know that you knew Janna and Mike already as per my previous post to you..

As to your current post..
The boat thing is some sort of ethical question I guess..
I first happened upon it in my Religion class in the Catholic Girls High school I attended..
The Fr. who taught the class name was Father Spring and he was from Ireland. I thought that was funny at the time because it reminded me of the "Irish Spring" soap commercial.
Anyway I can't remember the answer I gave in class to this question but I do remember Fr. Spring really getting into whatever I was saying to him at the time and we were enjoying our discussion.. I thoughly enjoyed being in this religion class cause I wasn't catholic and these kinds of discussions were new to me at the time ... most of the other girls who had been there at the school for a long time seemed bored to death :=) It was my first and only year and my senior year in high school that I went there..

r.b. said...

Janna and I talked a lot in the beginning. I really wanted to know what was going on with ABA today, and she had been a teacher, but didn't have much good to say about it.

It doesn't surprise me that it was a catholic school where you were presented the story. Seems like what we were taught was more about ethics than the bible, per se, and we all seemed to have well-developed "guilty " consciences, ha!

Maybe it was just me, I'm quite a character and have always been a champion for the underdog. I just thought that story was interesting because it equates life itself as of more value than any "thing" on earth.

Vicky said...

The question when it was put to us in the religion class back in 1974 was that there were X amount of people on a boat and one was a child one a woman one a man and something like one was sick and there was only so much food left for X amount of time and what you you do. It seems to me there was a element of who you would chuck out of the boat too..

I found this reference in wikipeadia that might interest you.

r.b. said...

I don't much care for his politics, the man who created the "life-boat" ethics...he's elitist.

This was brought up on Kos

You and I are the same age. I graduated in 1974!

r.b. said...

Vicky has left a new comment on your post "Humanity versus genius":

Hi Rose,

I always get a thrill to find someone my own age :)
Larry is also the same age as us.
Although he was born in 1955 and I was born in 1956.

About Garret Hardin:
I can't tell if he is Elistist or not from this other Wiki page..

I'd be curious to know who else has heard of him as this is the first time I have come accross his Essay . From what I could gather he was one of the first to popularize modern thinking on Ecology. Feel free to correct me as I have difficulty understanding written material until I have gone over writing with a fine tooth comb repeatedly.

I accidently deleted your post, so I recreated it here. I judged him as elitist because he believes in population control. The thing about that is those people are the ones who judge who are worthy of life (the rich) and who are not (the poor). I tend to judge people by their heart, not their pocketbook, so I guess that makes me elitist, too.

I figured Larry was about the same age, by his references to Monty Python. Only old farts like us are familiar with them! Did you ever watch them as a teenager?

I was born in 1956, also.

laurentius rex said...

I'd save the Rembrandt every time unless there were a Raphael of a Titian in the boat and then it would get difficult :)

Vicky said...


I had to take the time to read Garrett Hardins articles..
I hate to agree with anyone without having some sort of information on the subject myself..

So anyway Yeah it seems he has some unpopular views.. Like limiting population and it seemed he thought it was a bad idea to feed the poor nations and tied those two things into each other..
Maybe you read about this guy in college .. ?
It's all new information to me as far as this Man anyway he and his wife commited suiside . He was 88 and she was 82 and asserted their right to die or something..
It seemed he had strange ideas about China... I mean he seemed to think their policys were just... I don't agree with that issue..
He also thought eventually because of over population that peoples movement should be restricted and therefore it seemed he was anti immigration although he seemed to have some sympathy for Russian Jews who wanted to leave russia but undersood why Russia would keep what he thought was a monetary investement in its people...
He talked about Hawaii and the right to limit its inhabitants.. which I think makes sense to me..

Speaking of that I met a woman from Bulgaria or somewhere around there and she didn't think the U.S was that great.. it costs a lot of money to get here and get green cards and have people sponsor you..
She said most people where she came from own their own homes and of course that is difficult in California where the price of a home is 400,000.00 for a two bedroom home.

Anyway,,, :-)

r.b. said...

What if the people on the boat were two people that you loved unconditionally?

Or what if, God forbid, they were two great minds you believed capable of changing the world?

r.b. said...

Anne: I am sorry but I deleted you r post by accident. I have to slow down when I get to that!!

I agree. Some things are son is into Monty Python and the Beatles!!

Anne has left a new comment on your post "Humanity versus genius":

Monty Python?

We went to Las Vegas for father's day. The high point of the trip was seeing "Spamalot," a musical written by Eric Idle and based on Holy Grail.

Yesterday we saw Shrek the Third, which had John Cleese and Eric Idle in it. The opening scene was the same as the opening scene in Spamalot -- the guy pretending to ride a horse while the other guy claps the coconut shells together.

Some things are timeless.

r.b. said...

The thing about population control is: who decides???? To me, it is too close to genocide, deciding who is worthy.

Believe it or not, I think it is up to nature, not man, to decide who lives and who dies. And then man enters in with war, greed, and other such nonsense to make enough of those decisions without using "men of science". And the world keeps turning...

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