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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 01:56 PM
Original message
"Dying in vain" is self-defined by the person who died, not by anyone else
Sorry for being a newbie, but seeing so much argument and emotion on the subject got to me.





Some people take their military service the way the ancient samurai did. As long as they die in service, it's a good death. To them, it doesn't matter if they were ordered to do something noble or foolish or even evil. Their loyalty is all that matters. They find their sense of honor in that.

We observers are free to disagree or not quite understand them, of course. But they likely will not accept our judgement on how they choose to give their lives. This isn't every serviceperson, but there are a fair number who feel this way, in my experience.




Other people view their military service differently. They may find their personal sense of honor requires things beyond pure loyalty. Ethics, religion, philosophy, and social ideology might figure into what they consider worth dying for.




"What am I personally willing to die for?" is one of the hardest questions a human being can ponder. (This is not the same thing as asking "What should people be willing to die for?", which is far easier to come up with an answer... almost too easy, in fact.)

I'm not surprised that so many people have differing answers to this question. That's wonderful that we do. So is it really that hard to sit in the diversity of answers?

I wouldn't feel any need to justify my own answer to anyone. And I wouldn't pass judgement on any soldier or fellow poster for having a different answer than mine.

My point is, this is a very difficult and personal question.




I personally want to bring our troops home. But it's never about who did or didn't die "in vain". I just don't think any MORE people need to die for this project... in vain or not.

Whatever has been already accomplished will be dealt with by those who live and continue to live... civilian and military alike. Recovering from great violence requires that those people involved stay alive and not just feel they are "living in vain".
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Commie Pinko Dirtbag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:01 PM
Response to Original message
1. A person who is willing to die for a rotten cause...
...is a fool, and is wasting his/her life, samurai or not. Sorry, I reserve my loyalty for entities higher than some feudal warlord.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. That's great that you know what you'd give your own life for.
Really, I think that's awesome. I wish more people would take the time to really ponder this question and arrive at their personal answer. Too many folks out there have no idea what they are willing and unwilling to die for.


Now, how does your decision translate into what someone else should choose to give his/her life for?
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Commie Pinko Dirtbag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. I wish more people exercised their freedom to choose
a career that doesn't involve killing somebody. I did, and I feel pretty damn good about it.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. I commend your commitment to non-killing. That rocks.
Actually, though, you just brought up the flip-side of the question.


Not only is there the question, "What am I personally willing to die for?", we also have the question, "What am I personally willing to kill another human being for?"


Like you, I have my answer.
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stray cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:03 PM
Response to Original message
2. Welcome to DU. I agree with you that humility is required.
It is arrogant of me to make those kinds of decisions for others just like I wouldn't want someone else making the decision for me.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:14 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Thanks for the welcome. Your statement is refreshing to see. nt
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atreides1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:19 PM
Response to Original message
5. Vain
Not yielding the desired outcome, fruitless: a vain attempt
Lacking substance or worth: vain talk

Archaic:Foolish

Just several of the definitions of vain.

Samurai Culture

"One who is a samurai must before all things keep constantly in mind...the fact that he HAS to die. If he is always mindful of this, he will be able to live in accordance with the paths of loyalty and filial duty, will avoid myriads of evils and adversities, keep himself free of disease and calamity and moreover enjoy a long life.
He will also be a fine personality with many admirable qualities."

Following an order that is evil or foolish, does not make one a hero, it puts that person in the same category as the Waffen SS, who
were also known for their loyalty and ability to follow orders without question. Blind loyalty is above all else, blind.

An American soldier swears allegiance to the Constitution, not to the President. The duty of all American military is to defend and support that document against all enemies, soldiers do not swear allegiance to the President, the Congress, or to the justices of the Supreme Court.

Nothing has been accomplished by the deaths of those men and women who have died in Iraq, their service was based on lies, they were sent into harm's way for the personal gain of one man, and their loyalty was betrayed by a group of cowards.

They have died in vain, their deaths were needless, and this country is less without them.

Gilbert C. Gordon
U.S. Army 1978-1991
Operation Desert Storm


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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:49 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Great post, but I see some subjective areas.
Before determining there is a lack of substance or worth, one must decide by what measurements will such worth be compared to. Success or failure depends on how one views the goal. If a soldier's personal goal was to do the President's bidding (regardless of what oaths were actually required), then he may consider his death to be well and good.

Note that I never said anything about heroism. I don't know where to draw the line between heroes and non-heroes, though I suspect that line is customarily drawn collectively by pop culture (with influence from the media).

Note also that I never said soldiers who blindly obey orders are morally excused from wrongdoing. In samurai times, upon realizing he had been ordered to perform an injustice, a moral samurai might commit seppuku (ritual suicide) in order to fulfill both his duty to his daimyo and his own sense of honor.

Blind loyalty is by definition blind, yes. And as a blind person might tell you, there can be a very functional relationship involving blind loyalty if sufficient trust is established.

Bush abused this trust. It's tragic. And I suspect that many of our soldiers (even those who aspire to samurai ideals) may not be so trusting in the future.

But I'll still stop short of claiming anything about those who died.

If one guy chose to die in a successful attempt to save his buddy from a grenade, then by his personal definition he'll call it a good death. If another guy died while searching for WMDs, then by his personal definition he may consider himself duped.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:23 PM
Response to Original message
7. The thread was about framing
No one was telling someone else how they should feel. The discussion was confusing because some thought it was about their personal feelings or thoughts on the subject rather than about linguistics and crafting a message that resonates.

The fact is, there are ineffective ways to articulate a message and there are effective ways. Linguistics DO MATTER. The Repukes have known this for a long time.

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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 02:55 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Yeah, I was reacting to those arguing for...
... some absolute finding that the deaths as a collective whole were somehow "worth it" or "not worth it".




I only wanted to bring up the highly personal nature of the judging death's "worth".




Thanks for your post. I agree that using language well is critical for our movement.
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wuushew Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 03:03 PM
Response to Original message
11. If you allow self definition then the reasons for war will constantly shift
I really doubt most people get any satisfaction from believing that they are engaged in a failed endeavor. Supposedly we went to find WMDs. Since that was a sham and a lie, many people and soldiers are now shifting their reasons to bullshit like spreading freedom or fighting terror.

All people like to believe that they are in the right and that their cause is just and achievable. However constant self-deception leads to horrible policy errors and suffering. Never facing up to failures makes such mistakes more likely to occur in the future.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 04:19 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Maybe I see a separation between collective and personal goals.
The way I see it, the decision to commit troops to some task is entirely separate from a decision to give one's own life for something.



In my original post, I said the question "what would I personally give my life for?" is very difficult for a person to answer. This is the question each soldier faces.

This is NOT the same question as "what should people be willing to die for?". Answering this question is comparatively easy. This is the question the President faced, and Bush answered it a dozen different ways. He said people (other people) should be willing to die for WMDs, for fighting terrorism, for spreading democracy, for deposing a tyrant, etc.

I think your argument is very effective at countering Bush's decision to commit troops... his decision that it's somehow proper and good that "someone else" die for a given cause.




However, I think it doesn't directly bear on my original point that when one individual chooses to die (or risk death) for something, the nobility or vanity of his death is for him alone to judge.
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stanwyck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 03:14 PM
Response to Original message
12. If my son dies in Iraq
I will never be able to convince myself that he did not die in vain. He is not there to liberate concentration camps. He is not there because Iraq invaded other countries and their ally bombed our battleships. He is not there due to imminent threat to our country.
Others might be able to say he did not die in vain.
I won't.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 04:21 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I can understand your point and what you consider dying in vain.
Next, I would wonder what your son considers dying in vain.
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henrik larssonisking Donating Member (211 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. cultural differences
i think you have hit the nail on the head, each of us has a a different idea of what is worth giving our life for. There is also the cultural difference between members of a tight knit military unit and civilians. Personally i would accept dying if it was in saving a fellow soldier, and i think this is the feelings of a lot of troops.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. cultural differences that lead to different choices
Thanks for your post. I agree that many troops seem perfectly willing to die for their comrades in arms, and perhaps less so for whatever the President says.

By extention, many civilians also have a few special people worthy of risking life and limb for. This is probably human nature.

When it comes to more abstract reasons for dying, like the dozen or so reasons Bush gave, things are far less clear cut.
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stanwyck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. fair question.
He's 21 and idealistic. There is a reason military recruiters want to get young men/women between the ages of 17 and 21. Any older, and they're not good soldiers. They are too afraid of dying.
Old men send young men to fight the battles the old men start.
I'd like to know what Dick Cheney (5 deferments and "other priorities") considers dying in vain.
Or AWOL George W. Bush.
1421 troops dead.
Mission Accomplished.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Mission Accomplished? More like Mission Still In-Progress.
A friend of mine is a retired USAF officer. Back in 2001, when there were news stories of middle-aged men enlisting in order to fight Al Qaeda, I asked him what he thought.

He replied, "Those guys sure have a lot of balls, but I don't think we can use 'em. Why? They think too much. Anyone who makes it past 35 has probably gotten scammed or hurt or screwed over a few times. They ask too many questions. That slows things down. We need guys who aren't... shall we say... encumbered by experience."

I hope your son stays safe. Maybe he'd get a kick out of this post. Best wishes to you and him.
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stanwyck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 05:54 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. I was being ironic
with the Mission Accomplished
If you ask veterans what they fought for, most will tell you they fought to protect their fellow soldiers. My son is a liberal who voted for Kerry. He has no illusions about the Bush-Cheney war for oil. He just wants to protect his buddies.
As for middle-aged men "enlisting" to fight...I think you're referring to those who were called back into service through the National Guard and the reserve. Check in with them now on how they feel about this war.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #22
25. Sorry, I saw your sarcasm and was adding my own...
but neglected to acknowledge yours. I just want this Mission Stopped.



In actuality, I really was talking about some middle-aged guys who, after being deeply moved by the 9/11 attacks, volunteered for military service. That was the context of my chat with my Air Force friend.

I realize there were call-ups from the Nat'l Guard and Reserves, but these hadn't happened in the couple months right after 9/11/2001.




I think your son has some fortunate buddies. How many of us can count on our friends to protect us with such commitment? I hope they all come home soon.
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #12
28. Exactly.
and before I'm asked, let me engage in a bit of pre-emption my own self...my husband, the soldier (who served in Iraq), agrees that every soldier dying in Iraq is dying in vain. That they are dying for absolutely nothing. He blames Bush for using the soldiers but he says that doesn't change that soldiers have died for no reason...and dying for no reason means you've died in vain.

stanwyck..you're in my thoughts!!!





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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. I can respect your judgement...
and your husband's too. And as you may've read from my other posts in this thread, I fully share your opinion of Bush's policies.





I'm still hesitant to proclaim that I can determine the true value (or lack of value) in anybody's death save for my own.
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. Yes, I've read your other posts
Edited on Fri Jan-28-05 07:02 PM by Solly Mack
I would never tell a grieving person their child/husband died in vain. Simply because it's crass and tacky to behave that way during a time of sorrow. Not because I wouldn't be thinking it.

I know people tell themselves whatever it is they need to tell themselves at a time like that...I've been to enough memorial services of soldiers to realise that...it's almost palpable their trying to grasp at any straw to maintain their sanity.

However, I see in them, no exceptions as of yet, the anger and they often ask "why?" Not "why?" did they die(as in why them and not someone else)...but "why are we even in Iraq" ...so far, it's been a case of just a matter of time before the anger wins out and they hate Bush, and they feel that the death was for nothing.

Don't get me wrong, I know what people are trying to say when they say "a soldier is just doing their job"....but in the course of that job, they are dying for lies. Accomplishing nothing.

Maybe people on the outside looking in see something different...but from the inside looking out...I see a lot of people who don't have a single clue.

I understand what you're saying as well. You're right, it's not up to you to place a value on another persons death...what I don't think people are getting is that those who think as I do, that they are dying for nothing, aren't diminishing the death (or life) of that soldier...we are stating our anger on the waste of life. For their lives were wasted for nothing. It's not personal or directed at the soldier.



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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #31
33. Well spoken, and I would never assume your view denigrates those...
who died, even as you describe the circumstances as needless.

I'm 100% with you and GollyGee and many others in proclaiming loud and clear that Bush put our troops into harms way deliberately and needlessly.




I'm glad you understood my point about judging an individual's death. That's what I was trying to get across. Thanks for your posts.
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stanwyck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:57 PM
Response to Reply #28
36. thanks, Solly
I had several calls this past week from concerned friends and family after the 30 Marines were lost in the transport accident. I assured them my son was not among those killed. But, of course, other parents' sons were killed. Other wives' husbands, other children's fathers, other girls' boyfriends. So much sorrow.
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gollygee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 05:15 PM
Response to Original message
19. You also misunderstand what "dying in vain" means
It has nothing to do with honor.

The US went to war in Iraq with some objectives. The objectives have changed, but we haven't met and it doesn't look like will meet any of them.

If someone died supposedly to meet those objectives and their death didn't bring us closer to meeting those objectives, then that death was in vain.

This is an objective statement. It is not a discussion of the honor or worth of any person. It is simply an objective statement that the death did not further the cause that was stated as the reason for the war.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 05:28 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. I could agree with that objectivity if every soldier who went to war...
... personally believed in Bush's reason for sending them to war.


and no doubt, many soldiers probably did align their personal reasons with Bush's official reasons.

But many did not. Many of those who went had their own personal reasons for going.

Some went with altruistic motives to (somehow) help Iraqis. Some may've wanted to represent the U.S. abroad. Some may've gone for adventure. Some may've gone to gain combat experience. Some may've went because their closest friends were also going. Some may've went because they feared reprisal if they didn't. This barely scratches the surface of all the potential personal reasons for risking life and limb.



What I'm trying to point out is: the reason they were collectively sent is not necessarily the reason(s) they individually went.

The official reason for sending we now know was utterly bogus.

Their personal reason(s) for going are largely unknown to us.
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gollygee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. From their personal perspective, I can see your point
But from a political perspective, they died in vain. And this is a discussion of politics.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Yes, and you see how the personal and the political can differ.
I'm comfortable with the possibility that a given soldier's death in Iraq was simultaneously:

A). politically unnecessary, and
B). personally fulfilling

I'll criticize Bush's politics side by side right next to you. Sending the troops was unnecessary for any of our common values or goals. What a stupid waste of resources, including human resources.




The personal perspective, as you and I both agree, is that we don't know what individual blend of reasons motivated the soldier to risk his or her life... first by enlisting, and then daily in their duties.

Specifically, we don't know what action the soldier was performing when he or she was killed. Therefore, we don't know if he or she was successful in that action.

What if he gave his life trying to drag a wounded buddy to safety? If successful, would he deem giving his life for his friend a vain death... despite being sent to Iraq on false pretenses?

I think there can be an unknown number of cases where A). and B). are coexist without mutual exclusion.





Now, when talking to the grief-stricken families of fallen soldiers, do you want to stick with just the political perspective?

Or can there be some constructive value in talking to them on a personal level?
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gollygee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. That's ridiculous
We aren't talking about discussions with grief-stricken parents of soldiers. For god's sake.

We're talking about a community internet board political discussion. If I'm talking about politics on a political board, I will talk about the political issue. Period.

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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:17 PM
Response to Reply #24
27. In another topic, there was talk about how we approach...
... different audiences.


You telling me "our soldiers died in vain" is fine and dandy. I know you're focusing on the political angle, which is legitimate and very appropriate here on a political forum.



In this particular thread, I'm talking about more than politics. When a death is very personal to someone, such as in the case with soldiers' families, sticking to the purely political angle might not fit as neatly.

I started this thread specifically to point out the personal viewpoint. This you have acknowledged.

I again assert my belief that the political and personal angles can coexist without conflict. Holding one does not require abandoning the other.


I also see no reason to view this as any restriction on what you say here.
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stanwyck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #19
26. actually, I agree with you
as I stated, others might believe that my son's death was not in vain, but to me, it would be. And, you're right, that doesn't have anything to do with honor. It's the why. And I don't see a valid "why" in this war.
As his mother, if my son dies, his death will have been "in vain". And I will tell George W. Bush so if he has the courage to call me.
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
29. Thank You. It Seemed After Reading Replies That I Failed To Address
the subjective nature of the words "in vain".

IMO, it's ultimately up to each individual citizen to decide whether the soldiers or ones beloved has died in vain.

But there are objective facts... that Bush's misuse of the military and his incompetence leading the armed forces is causing soldiers deaths even as we speak now.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #29
32. You're welcome. And valuing anything, by definition, is subjective.
If you'll pardon a brief tangent into economics, the whole reason any kind of trade happens at all is because everyone values things a little differently from each other.


When it comes to valuing another person's death, of course everybody can come up with an opinion of some kind. How good are those opinions? I think we cannot possibly know.




I think it's objective to say Bush ordered our troops into harms way under false pretenses. We have proof of that's what occurred.

I'm ok saying Bush is responsible for all those unnecessary deaths, military and civilian alike, because he set up the dangerous situation that killed them. And the reasons he gave for doing so have been proven false.

That's fine. It's just a statement of objectively measurable facts.

We move into subjective territory when we put a value judgement on these facts.





The line I cannot bring myself to cross is telling someone "your son died for nothing". that's a value judgement. How do I know this guy actually died for nothing? Maybe he died for something and I'm simply unaware of what that something is.

Maybe he believed Bush and died trying to prove Bush was right. Now that Bush has been proven wrong, that would indeed be a fruitless death. But that's just one possibility.

Maybe he risked his life to protect his friends. If he did attempting to do that, then the value of his death is harder to say. He himself (supposing his spirit or soul were available for comment afterwards) might consider his death well-justified, though the rest of us grieve his loss.


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girl gone mad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:11 PM
Response to Original message
34. I don't think so.
Edited on Fri Jan-28-05 07:15 PM by girl gone mad
By your logic if Hitler thought he was dying for a good cause, then he was, and if his millions of victims believed their lives to be nmeaningless, then they were.

I think historians, ancestors and the like make these judgements. I think we would say that the deaths of the holocaust victims were senseless, but their lives meant something, and we have derived meaning from the tragedy. Only the sickest among us would agree that Hitler died for a good cause.

Likewise, I think most of the soldiers in Iraq have meaningful lives, but it's really just a waste of life when they die. Their deaths do not serve any higher purpose or greater good because this was an unnneccessary war and the outcome is so unlikely to be a stable democracy in Iraq. Even if a stable democracy is achieved in Iraq, I think history will see that we had better ways to go about it.
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tubbacheez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. Interesting hypothetical.
I think I'm drawing a bigger distinction between A). the circumstances of a person's death and B). what that person did while he was alive, than your example does.




Suppose I'm somebody who has committed many atrocities over some period of time. Suppose that the entire world came to a consensus that I really ought to be dead, just so there's no chance of disagreement on this point.

Now suppose I believed deeply that my infant baby's life was more valuable than my own life. Suppose I decided months ago that I would be willing to give my life to save my baby's life.

And one day, I rescue my infant from a burning house, but later that day I die of burns sustained.

Everybody in the world would be happy I died. Everybody would agree I deserved to die for all those atrocities I committed while alive. Everybody would think I didn't suffer enough before I died.

"Did I die in vain?"

If I (as a disembodied ghost) seriously ponder the question, the answer must be defined by my values, and not by everybody else's.

Did I give my life for something I valued more? I'd say the answer would be, yes. Was I successful in doing what I died trying to do? Again, in this hypothetical scenario, I'd answer yes.

Does anyone else need to change their opinion of me and my atrocities, just because I died in the manner described?

I'd say no.
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