Choices–from the Internet

A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused.

Only one child played on the disused track, the  rest on the operational track.

The train is coming, and you are just beside the track interchange.

You can make the train change its course to the disused track and save most of the kids.
However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed.
Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let’s take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make…….. ………

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child.
You might think the same way, I guess.
Exactly, to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision
most people would make, morally and emotionally.
But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact
made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was.
This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday.
In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the law abiding small section of society is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the law abiding citizens are.

The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined.
And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

The great critic Leo Velski Julian who told the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use,  and that they should have run away if they heard the train’s sirens..

If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe.

If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake!

And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made,
we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

‘Remember that what’s right isn’t always popular… and what’s popular isn’t always right.’

Everybody makes mistakes; that’s why they put erasers on pencils.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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5 Responses to Choices–from the Internet

  1. Rummuser says:

    There is a great saying in the Ishavasya Upanishad “tyena tyaktena bhunjita…” which means, “Let go and rejoice!” … For joyful living, what this conveys is to do what arises spontaneously at the moment and take whatever happens as a result as prasadam. This is further expounded in the BG as Karmani yeva adhikaresthey, maa phaleshu kadachana, Ma karma phal hetur bhuhu, tey ma sangostav akaramani, meaning “You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of actions; never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.


  2. Grannymar says:

    “Two wrongs do not make a right!”, comes to mind as I read this post. The child on the unused track and the passengers on the train do not deserve to be sacrificed for those playing on the open track.


  3. Rohit says:

    Absolutely loved the last line of your post. Few words but such profound meaning..amazing! As for the main theme of it, all I will say is fate. One can never escape “prarabdha”…if it has to happen, it has to happen. Neither could Parikshit escape Takshaka who appeared out of a fruit as a tiny insect when the time had come, and nor would anybody else ever manage to. All we can do is carry this thought in our minds always, death is the only certainty. Although I won’t say saving a hundred people’s life is more important if one child is sacrificed in process, I would certainly question depending on who dies….whose fate was about to be sealed? If the end has come for a hundred people at the same time, they would all end up in one place by any means…if it has for a single person, then that person will end up at the place where the journey would end. In this case, we really are quire’s more about destiny than choice.


  4. padmum says:

    Rohit–prarabdha is another blog altogether!! This story is an attempt for one to play God! I would only call out to one person before I act! Superman or Krishna!

    Have you read an absolutely amazing book called “Krishna’ translated from Gujerati by Bhawna Somayya? Don’t worry —it is not her filmy stuff. It is such a profound book and as you say, written simply.


  5. blackwatertown says:

    Interesting dilemma.
    Is it clear in the story which track is which – in other words – did the child on the disused track choose it by chance or design?


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