Morality and Survival

I’ve been having a discussion with a fellow prepper, and the question arose about whether it was acceptable to raid other people (depriving them of what they need to survive and/or killing them in the process) in order to enhance the chances of your own survival and that of your family.

He is of the opinion that it is, morally at least, a gray area.  He ‘will do anything’ to ensure the survival of him and his family.  The difficulty is that there is not a one to one correspondence between the morality and the effectiveness of an action.  If the primary goal is survival of the family, then that action seems the most effective decision to make, and it is hard to fault him for making it.  However, that decision should be made with the full understanding that no matter how effective that plan may be, the actions required are morally wrong.

Be sure to note that a plan can be highly effective, but morally wrong.  In fact, this is very often the case.  Conversely, just because something is morally right does not guarantee it to be effective.  And in this case, the moral course of action may very well be less effective for the goal of survival.

Why do I claim that the course of action which gives an appearance of effectiveness is morally wrong?  Well, we can go to the Bible to see that stealing and murdering is frowned on by God.  Assuming that you put any stock in the Bible, of course.  Perhaps a more general support for the position would be a form of the ‘Golden Rule’ which just makes sense.  ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ and more specifically, ‘do not do unto others what you do not want them to do unto you’.

Consider that you have what you need for you and your family to survive.  Would you want someone else to come and take it, either killing you or some family member(s) and/or leaving you without the means to survive?  I suspect not.  Well then, I contend that this shows that the action is not ‘moral’.

I have lived by that version of the Golden Rule for thirty five years, and intend to continue doing so, even in a survival situation.  Does this mean my chances of survival are reduced?  Probably.  I can tell you, from my years of experience, just because I do something for someone that I would like someone to do for me, often it is not done for me.  And similarly, things I don’t do because I would not want them done to me, sometimes are done to me.

Here is the thing.  You don’t follow the Golden Rule for others; you follow it for yourself.  And perhaps for God.  I can always (well most of the time) look in the mirror and be pleased with who I see.  Those times when I say to myself, ‘you know, I really wish I had not done that’ are greatly reduced.  I believe that God is moderately happy with me (of course, I still have many areas which need work).  If I fail to survive because I do not perform an action which I believe to be immoral, well, I think survival is more than just staying alive.  In my opinion, survival includes not only the body, but the soul.

By the way, note that while I believe that ‘murder’ is wrong, I have absolutely no problem with self defense.  It appears to me that God detests taking the life of innocents, but can accept taking the life of someone who is attacking you without cause.  ‘Turn the other cheek’ does not say that you cannot defend yourself against deadly violence; it specifically refers to a slap on the cheek, or more generally, an insult.  THAT you are not to respond to.






4 thoughts on “Morality and Survival

  1. What a great thought, “You don’t follow the Golden Rule for others; you follow it for yourself.” That’s so true.

    I feel that if I change the core of who I am and live in a way contrary to my beliefs, it’s not worth surviving. As much as I love my family, I cannot change this part of myself. There is a large part of me that sincerely hopes and wants to believe that there are enough like-minded people (who want to help others and be kind), that if there is a horrible situation, we can band together and help those who are willing to work and contribute.

    • Exactly, if you ‘kill off’ your core, what use is it if the body keeps on breathing.

      There are probably some like minded people. But a lot who believe in the ‘survival of the fittest’. Let me suggest that it might be more effective to find the former type now, than after a horrible situation when the latter types will be more visible.

      • I agree. I’m already on the look out for like minded people and have found a few.

        Hopefully, I’ll never need to band together with others in a post-apocalyptic situation. I’d love it if we could just be friends and support each other without any craziness. But I live in Southern California and I prefer to be prepared for the worst and never need my preps.

  2. Pingback: Morality Question During WROL | preppernextdoor

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