Saturday, January 23, 2010

The End Justifies the Means

The End Justifies the Means

The term "The end justifies the means" has been around for a long time. An idiom of the American language (in other words, from a literal standpoint, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, it's more of figurative speech), the phrase basically implies that the end result is much more important that whatever has to be done to get to that point.

Some famous uses of the ideology of "The end justifies the means":

- The Inquisition; it has been conjectured that the ideology was used for various reasons: increasing political authority, weakening opposition, or to profit from the confiscation of heretic's property.

- Basil II (Basil the Bulgar-slayer): After battling the Bulgarians for many years, his army managed to capture a Bulgarian stronghold. Legend has it that he blinded 99 out of every 100 men. The hundredth man, he only blinded in one eye. Allegedly, Samuel, the leader of the Bulgars fell down in a fit and died two days later after witnessing what Basil did to his men.

- The Nazi treatment of Jews: One of the most famous instances of the ideology comes from Nazi Germany, where millions of "undesirables" were humiliated, disenfranchised and murdered; simply due to the fact that they were considered an "inferior race".

- American treatment of Japanese Citizens: During WWII, America itself engaged in this ideology, sending Japanese Americans to internment camps in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

- Vietnam was yet another example of "The End Justifies the Means" as well as coining the phrase "We had to destroy it in order to save it": In the face of inhumane warfare tactics (women and children used to transport explosives or anti-personnel traps), American forces had to adopt this rather convoluted thinking to save themselves and the Vietnamese.

- Pol Pot and Cambodia: In the wake of Pol Pot taking power, he had all intellectuals and/or anyone with an advanced degree taken out to what was coined "The Killing Fields" to purge his country of radical thought.

- Even now, on a daily basis, people everywhere engage in behavior that can be interpreted as "The end justifies the means". Just look at when we go Christmas shopping. Normal, decent, thoughtful people become blood-thirsty, maniacal weapons of reasonably large destruction - and what for? Just to get your son or daughter a damn robotic hamster that will end up under the bed in three months, its batteries dead, its synthetic fur dirty and matted from sticky fingers, its butt chewed off because the cat got to it that one time.

Personally, I feel that even though it's for the greater good, the path that we take to get to that point is just as important, if not more so. If we get to a point were we have world peace, is that because we have reached a universal understanding, or is it because we're standing neck deep in the dead, and there's only five of us left, so we damn well better get along?

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