Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012 1:47:05 AM
Mindful of my words and actions, I have lived my life carefully, analyzing the consequences of every decision, yet there always seems to be some vital element missing which, in turn, leads me towards a tunnel of turmoil. I constantly find myself caught in between options as it is hard for me to determine which option yields the greater good. Similarly the character Valjean from Les Miserables is faced with a similar predicament. Valjean had been a convict, accused of theft, and had run away from jail. After receiving help from a priest, Valjean transforms into an honest man and eventually lives under the disguise as successful businessman. When word spreads that “the convict” who had been on loose has been found, Valjean realizes that someone else is being falsely accused of the sins he had committed in his convict life. Valjean can exonerate this innocent man by admitting his criminal past, but by doing so, he would have to close his business leaving 750 families unemployed. On the other hand, Valjean can let this innocent man bear his burden and live a life of misery. Strung between different choices Valjean remains uncertain.
I, too, often find myself stuck in the middle grounds of a field with polar ends. Recently during a Debate tournament, I was participating in a team debate event. When the topic had been released, I noticed that there was a typo in the topic and instead of using the word “ensure”, “insure” was used. Had I brought this up during the debate rounds, I would have ended up debating about health care rather than the intended topic of climate change. I would have surely won the tournament, but my other team members would have suffered greatly for not catching this mistake beforehand. If I did not mention this typo during the debate rounds, there was the possibility that my opponent would mention it, and my team would lose the round. No matter which way I looked at the situation, it seemed as if there was a flaw in every option I had.
Situations like these often hinder my abilities and potentials. Not able to decide which decision would yield to the greater good, I have always floated between options and ended up not deciding altogether. But, now having reflected on this topic, I’ve realized that I must learn to outweigh my different options and follow the choice I am morally obligated to follow. In the long term, any option that comes from a morally obligation will lead to the greater good and greater benefit. Near the end of Les Miserables, Valjean realizes that it is his moral duty to exonerate the innocent man and with time, those 750 families will learn a good moral lesson. As Karl Marx once said "History calls those men the greatest who have ennobled themselves by working for the common good with respect to moral obligation; experience acclaims as happiest the man who has made the greatest number of people happy."