Random Things in Motion #5: Would You Sacrifice a Loved One for the Greater Good?

Okay, before you all panic, this is a hypothetical question. I am not in any situation where I have to make a decision like this, and hopefully, I will never get there in my lifetime.

But, I’ve seen this theme happen so many times in the books I read, in which our main character is in the middle of a battle against the government, or the world, or another world, and find themselves in a situation where someone close to them is the “needed” sacrifice. Like for example, the sister is the cure for the zombie and fungal disease. The brother is the needed exchange in order for a treaty to happen between two warring countries. Or the love interest has to be given to the bad guy for the release of dozens of children.

And every time I see the main character being so selfish and not wanting to give up their loved ones for the supposedly greater good, I feel annoyed. Call me weird, idealistic, or perhaps extreme, but I’ve always thought everyone has a responsiblity for the world especially in challenging times. I’ve always thought that when so much is at stake, it’s only right to prefer duty over wants, needs, or even personal relationships. I’ve always thought that the feeling of saving the majority should overcome the pain of losing them. Yes, the decision sucks, but I’ve also thought shouldn’t it be a blessing that you’re not giving anyone else that difficult decision, to someone who may not be strong enough to handle it? That’s why every time I see a main character selfishly choose themselves over their duties to the people, or to humanity in general, I shake my head and think, “Great, thanks for letting everyone else die.”

But you know, I realize that I feel this way for the simple fact that I’ve never been in that situation at all. I’m looking at all of these stories and these scenes from an outside perspective. Yes, I’m seeing their thoughts, and in a way, I see their plight, but it’s hard to truly understand that feeling if you haven’t been in their shoes.

So, why the change of heart?

Yes, folks. This is where I pretty much eat my words.

Last night, I had a dream. Long story short, it involved aliens and space battles, and lasers whoosing in the vacuum of space, hitting metal ships and floating giant rocks. And it eventually came to the point that I had to sacrifice someone for there to be peace between the two species. In that dream, I finally felt it – somehow. The pain, the difficulty, the need to just be selfish for once after giving up everything else. Not him, not him, not him. Just this once, let me be selfish and think of myself.

In short, I want duty to be preferred over everything else… as long as it’s not me deciding that. I’m a selfish little shit, and I want to be saved, and if that isn’t the case, I want my loved ones to not be the sacrifice for anything. Very hypocritical, yes? Either way, I only think of me. But I guess that’s just how it is for many of us. If a zombie apocalypse were to come true, and someone’s baby is the hope of humankind, deep inside of course I would hope for that baby to be given up for everyone else’s sake.

But at the same time, if that unlucky person wanted to think of themselves, too, then I will also understand. It’s only normal. It’s only human nature. It takes a very extraordinary, brave person to be so scared of having to give up someone important but still do it anyway because he knows it would be for the greater good. Unfortunately, I’m not that person, and many others aren’t, too.

So the next time I see someone in a book in the same dilemma, I won’t be so quick to judge. I won’t be so quick to roll my eyes and curse at them for being so selfish. Because that’s probably the most realistic reaction to what is likely the most difficult question of all.

What about you, guys? When you read a book with the same theme, do you prefer duty over personal relationships? If you were in the same situation, what would you do? Would you be willing to sacrifice YOURSELF for the greater good?

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. says

    Hmmm this certain topic has crossed my mind before, and I so bravely told myself that “Of course, I’d sacrifice myself,”. But that’s my ignorant self speaking. Like you, I haven’t been in this ordeal before. I’m not familiar with the pressure and the stakes surrounding it.

    If I were to answer this question honestly, I’d probably save myself first because I’m selfish. And as you pointed out, it’s only human nature. We’re flawed and we’re imperfect.
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    • FayeFaye says

      It has crossed mine several times, too! It was only the other day when I finally decided to just write down everything I was thinking just so I could get it out there and make sense of what I was really feeling. And isn’t it really so easy to think automatically that we’re better than we are? But when it comes down to it, we’ll always go back to that primal instinct in which we think of ourselves. ><

  2. says

    Ah this is so hard… And making decisions sucks sometimes, but my professor said once that life is always about making choices whether right or wrong. I wish she’s not always right *sigh* Anyway, I totally understand your point. It’s so easy to point out and dictate what others should do because, well, it’s not our life . I would save my love ones too first (even myself first) because – and I quote , “that’s probably the most realistic reaction.” Dystopian and post-apocalyptic books always has this kind of dilemma and I oh so love the struggle (sadist much XD) because I get to read different reactions from characters. There were characters that chose their love one, some chose their duties and be the hero (although they don’t want to acknowledge that).

    Brilliant post, Faye! :D
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, I know what you mean. Many people become followers, very few become leaders, and you know why? Because not everyone is able to make the hard decisions. Certainly not I, at least a decision of this grand scale. And your professor is absolutely right! Life is pretty much 10% of what happens to you (that are out of your control) and 90% is what you make out of it (how you react). Although don’t you just wish we don’t have to encounter so many difficult ones along the way? But then again, it is those decisions that shape us in the end, so perhaps all that discernment has a purpose.

      In any case, it’s only human to go down the selfish route. I definitely won’t take it against you now if you were in a book in a dystopic setting. Haha.

  3. says

    Okay, first, It’s awesome that you’re having those dreams. Compared to my dream, it’s much much cooler. (not the sacrificing part though) Second, I wonder who is that you’re supposed to give up. Hahaha. Okay. okay. Hmmm. This is hard. Like, really hard. But I want to believe that YES, I would sacrifice myself or someone I love. At the very, I still want to be brave (or make the right choice) and I don’t think I can actually live peacefully if I know that I have the chance to save anyone, or anything, and didn’t do anything about it.

    Thought provoking question, Faye. It’s hard but awesome. Awesomely hard? :P Anyway, brilliant post as always!
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    • FayeFaye says

      I’ve been having a lot of very… descriptive and vivid dreams lately, all of them being very weird (one of them involves a kidnapping omfg). I think I wanna go back to dreamless nights. Haha. I know how it is, we want so much to believe that we are better than what we are, that we would be able to do that selfless thing because it’s what should be done, but by he end of the day, it’s really hard to tell. I mean, I know you’re saying here that you want to believe you can do that incredible thing, but I truly, truly, truly hope that decision will never become a reality for you! For any of us, really. It’s a hard situation.

  4. says

    I agree that I don’t think I’d be good enough or selfless enough to give up my loved ones for the greater good. I think it’d be somewhat easier to sacrifice myself, if I had to offer myself as bait or to be studied for a cure or something like that than losing someone close to me.

    I have never been too quick to judge characters when they felt like they couldn’t give up their loved ones, but I guess because of what I see too often at work, people losing their loved ones to the battle with cancer…

    Great discussion topic, Faye!!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, I guess I’d be sacrificing myself, too when it comes down to it. At least I know it’s my say, and I’m not deciding for someone else, who may not actually be wanting to be the sacrificial lamb.

      And I really admire you, Pili! I really can’t help it when I get nitpicky over incredibly selfish ones when I meet down in paper. It’s like, I want them to do the right thing, you know? And it’s hard to see everyone else go to damnation just because of one person. But that should change sometime soon…

  5. says

    This is a huge question. I think in an ideal world, I would do it for the greater good. But the fact is that I would probably take the selfish route.

    Also, every now and again, a book comes along just like this and there is nothing worth saving. Then I would definitely take the loved ones and run!

    I am a selfish shit! :’)

    Great post my dear! Very interesting question!

    Ps: I bought The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst this week! I hope I like it as much as you did! :) xxx

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries
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    • FayeFaye says

      You and me, both! It’s just hard thinking about it, you knw? Unless of course my loved one would insist being the sacrifice… I’d still resist, but it’s their choice in the end, and I don’t want to have to be the one to decide for them.

  6. says

    To be honest, every time I come across the same feat in books, I always ALWAYS think that they should sacrifice their loved ones for the greater good. Like you, it’s fine if it’s NOT ME. And it’s happening IN BOOKS, not in real life. But if it were the case in real life, I think it should be the other way around. But I am not sure if I am strong enough to make that kind of decision, so I am hoping that it’s not something that I’d have to face in real life. This is definitely something to think about. :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, I’ve been that way, and I’m still the same way, just more forgiving and understanding now after careful and thoughtful discernment. But yeah, if it happens in real life, the situation would be entirely different. Especially if it’s you who’s deciding. There are just so many factors at play, and it’s hard to not consider them all!

  7. says

    I don’t remember the last book where this happened, but I’m positive I’ll bump into this theme soon. AND WHAT THAT DREAM. Why don’t I have dreams like that?????

    If this ever happened to me in real life though, I think I’ll probably sacrifice myself. Sure it’s easier said than done, but just think of all the guilt that comes with not making that decision…
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, it’s been a while since I’ve had a real, real, real dream. After that I’ve been getting really strange dreams lately, and now I’m yearning for some peace and quiet. Trust me, you don’t exactly want these types… haha.

      And yeah, sacrificing yourself seems much more an easier decision than deciding the fate of someone else, even if they want to be the sacrificial lamb in the end. I just hope I’d be strong enough to get through with it! ><

  8. says

    Excellent question Faye!
    A. I’m a coward. True story
    B. I’m so selfish it’s not even funny.
    C. Hopefully I never have to find out.

    You’ve given this a lot of thought which is good but unlike me, I’m the queen of avoidance but for the sake of the story it’s a tough call. I can see both sides of the coin, you know?? But it’s still a great question and a fabulous post. :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Cristina! ;)

      A.) You and me both. I wish I was as strong-willed as I parade myself to be.
      B.) I think of myself a lot, too. Like, if it’s between you and me, I’d probably choose me. Hypothetically. Haha.
      C.) DITTO!!!

      I avoid a lot of questions, too. Like right now, with the way my life is going, I should be asking myself some important questions where I want my life to go, but I’m so afraid of what I’ll decide that I’ve been putting it off. Hopefully answering this is one step closer to gathering my confidence for what is really important!

  9. says

    Yeah, I don’t think I’d be able to do it. Maybe, I don’t know lol I probably wouldn’t know the answer unless I’m put into the situation. It does make you think though! I get more annoyed at main characters when they’re always the ones willing to sacrifice themselves all the time. I’m like let someone else do it. Why you? Maybe I’m a bit selfish when it comes to my main characters and the love interests. This is an awesome post!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, it’s always like that. Most of us can’t really walk the walk and only talk the talk :P It’s understandable~ But bahaha! That is indeed a bizarre thing! Most people I know want them to be more responsible, but I’ve met a few who want their heroine selfish. It’s more realistic that way, I guess.

  10. says

    The thing is, putting it in Divergent terms, I am Abnegation through and through. So, yes, hypothetically, I probably would sacrifice myself if it came to that and if it was the only option left. (Or so I’d like to think…) This is a really interesting question Faye; thanks for sharing! <3
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    • FayeFaye says

      You’re welcome, Zoe! I wish I could be that responsible! I mean, it’s easy to say, “yeah, I’ll sacrifice myself for the greater good”, but thinking about it now clearer and without any bias at all, I feel like I’ll never be able to go through with it.

  11. says

    *cries* I’m reading this post in the morning before school and it’s WAY TOO EARLY for these kinds of thoughts. Really, I have no idea what I’d choose if it came to it. In fact I’m not sure who would choose ME to decide the fate of the world, haha. I’d probably just find a way to have both because I’m just super-talented like that :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Awwww, I’m so sorry! Haha. It’s pretty depressing when you think about it, huh? >_< I get cild chills when I get philosophical like this, too. And I hope nobody in their right mind would give me that responsibility as well. They can't count on me to make the right choice.

  12. says

    I would hope that none of us would ever be in this situation to have to choose because honestly I don’t think it would be an easy choose. We can all say what we think we would do but until you are in that position, who is to say?
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    • FayeFaye says

      Ditto! It’s a hard situation to be in. I know I would probably die myself of nervousness >< And you're right, we won't really know unless we're in that situation ourselves. I guess it's time to give our darling main characters facing this difficulty more slack?

  13. says

    You know, this is such a good topic that I’ve not seen much in the past, such a good topic! I usually get pretty annoyed to, it’s like come on, you’ve been fighting these people for 6 books, just let him go and get on with it, but no, they stay and want everything when fiction should tell us that we don’t always get what we want in life, which is a shame, but honest. Great post Faye, really really good!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you! It’s hard to think of something new to talk about, something that hasn’t been done over and over in the numerous blogs in the blogosphere and I decided to just do it by tinkering with the book themes and making them hypothetical questions. Should be interesting to see what everyone think about them~

      And yeah, I’ve seen that happen. Like you have this resolve that hasn’t wavered for so many books, and in just an instant, you become weak and vulnerable and it’s just so hard to watch. But then again, that’s the flaw of man, isn’t it? When our loved ones become endangered, don’t we get weak in the knees and become irrational in a way? Definitely food for thought~

  14. says

    Oh, honey I have this dilemma all the time. I’d love to say that I would, without a doubt think of the greater good, but truth is I’m a selfish little shit. I don’t know what I would actually do if I would be put in that situation. However if I have to sacrifice myself then I probably would because I don’t need to decide someone else’s life (and also because I’d feel incredibly guilty if millions of people died because of lil’ old me). Great post! It really made me think for a while xD
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    • FayeFaye says

      Huhu, same here! I wish I would be more responsible, but alas, it’s just hard in such an epic scale. Sacrificing oneself sounds far more easier, although I know for sure I’d be scared as hell. I don’t think I’ll ever be prepared to die or give my life away, but I guess if it’s for a greater cause, then it should be worth it >< Like you, the guilt would just be too much. I wouldn't want to be haunted by the ghosts of a billions of people!

  15. says

    Oh my, a heavy question!! I have actually thought about it, especially when reading dystopian novels and STAKES ARE CRAZY HIGH. My moral compass/ sense of social responsibility would egg the protagonist to sacrifice for the greater good, but if I were to be in same position, I wouldn’t find it so easy to abide by utilitarianism! There will definitively be deliberation because we, as humans, are always motivation by self-interest… A tough question! Thank you for posting this question and sharing your thoughts, it has made me put myself in the shoes of book characters, and empathize with the struggles they face in making a HUGE choice!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, same here. When so much is at stake, there’s just this feeling that the MC just have to adhere to his responsibility for the world, but that’s just my selfishness talking once again. Of course I’d want them to choose that over their own selves, because that would mean saving me in the process (if I were a part of that world of course). And yes, it’s definitely opened a new perspective for me. Never will I easily judge a selfish MC again.

  16. says

    Okay, I do get that making a sacrifice for the greater good can be difficult when faced with the loss of loved ones. However I can’t stand it in novels where there’s this MC who has the power to change everything shitty about her world BUT OMG THERE’S THIS TOTALLY CUTE GUY SHE JUST MET SO. Obviously he should be her main concern.

    Lol. If it was like her family I could see the choice being so much more difficult. Personally, I would be like you and find it extremely difficult to choose. However in books I do prefer the greater good route, just because it speaks to the way I wish I would be able to choose.

    Great discussion! (:

    • FayeFaye says

      Oh, yeah, totally. As for that, that’s totally unforgiveable in my book. Please don’t sacrifice pretty much everything just ’cause a cute guy appeared. It’s like what’s the sense in that? Is he so much more worthy than, I don’t know, the rest of the world? D: I’d only be more sympathetic if the stakes involved her real loved ones, and not because of a guy who appeared out of the blue. The latter just sounds so shallow and I don’t think it would be realistic to give up everything for him. I know I wouldn’t sacrifice everything for a guy I just met!

  17. says

    I love this discussion topic. Hehe. After watching Supernatural though…weeeell, sacrificing yourself for someone can be almost worse. THEY then have to live knowing someone died for them. Ugh. Hard. I like to fit into the characters’ shoes of the books I’m reading, so I’d LIKE to say I don’t judge. ;) Well…not too much. If it came to sacrificing myself for someone I loved, I think maybe I would. I’m a very strange little person. XD
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    • FayeFaye says

      Ah, Supernatural! You just reminded me of that series which I’ve been slacking off lately, lol! In any case, I guess in a way you do have a valid point there. We always think of ourselves and the responsibility, but what about the people we will leave behind? What will they feel? See, this is why stuff like this are almost impossible to be extremely “good” for everybody in the end, because there’s always a factor that will hold you back. That’s why I can never be cut out for this.

    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, it really is. Only an extraordinary, courageous person can do something like this, sacrificing himself and those he love (although he better make sure they know about it first and they agree! It’s their lives still.)

  18. says

    This is such a hard and tricky subject because like you said, who are we to dictate other’s people’s choices when it comes to this? If sacrificing myself was the key to saving the world would I hesitate? Yes. Would I do it? I’d like to this I would. But when it comes to sacrificing a loved one how can I just stand by and say okay? If i love that person I’m going to want to find another way or put it off for as long as possible or whatever because how can you just expect someone else to sacrifice themselves? It’s just too much.
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    • FayeFaye says

      I like that – that moment of hesitation, of fear, of having to give up yourself, but will still do it because we recognize that social responsibility we have. That’s quite realistic, because who wouldn’t be afraid? And yeah, if it’s inevitable, I guess I’d find ways to go around it, AND try to find an alternative so it didn’t have to come to that.

  19. says

    Ah yes . . . “In short, I want duty to be preferred over everything else… as long as it’s not me deciding that.” The old, “do as I say, not as I do,” stumbling block. It is one that I am very familiar with. I’m actually more annoyed by the person who won’t give themselves up for the greater good, than the one who won’t sacrifice someone else. I’m more understanding of the latter, the former . . . I have ZERO patience with. You’ve probably noticed my Kate Daniels enthusiasm (*snorts*), and in the second book a situation like that comes up (the sacrifice someone else situation), and both Kate and Curran were willing to sacrifice many for the good of one, but an excellent point was made–those who risked death to rescue an individual CHOSE to. And who decides what the “lesser” sacrifice is? To someone, that one person is the world, and there is not bigger sacrifice. Basically . . . no. I wouldn’t. Myself, yes. Someone else . . . who am I to make that judgment call?
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    • FayeFaye says

      I know what you mean about being frustrated of not giving themselves up for the greater good. It’s really selfish, isn’t it? But I’d probably be that way, too, if it were me in that situation. I mean, like what Lily aid above, I’d still be hesitant at first. Maybe resistant even, but I guess I would still do it. I don’t think I can take the guilt of having disappointed billions of people because of my own selfishness. And you have a valid point there – it’s their lives, not yours. They will have to decide if they want to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

  20. says

    That dream sounds so scary Faye :( I hope you have ice cream today to make you feel better :)

    Well… in truth if I ever was in that situation. I would wish that I was the one in their place and be the sacrifice (especially if it was my parents) but I dunno. I feel the struggle of the character. But I read by the flow. I guess it depends on the whole story itself.

    • FayeFaye says

      I had a worse dream right after this! I don’t think I’ll do that one, though… it involved rape, sexual harrassment and the likes >_> *shiver*

      Yeah, it’s easier to sacrifice yourself than make the judgement call for someone else. And I remember this Winnie the Pooh quote from somewhere where it goes: “If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.” I guess it’s like that :( You wouldn’t want to bear the pain of losing the people you love, so you’d rather take their place than endure that.

  21. says

    Wow, that was a pretty deep dream you had there, Faye. O_O

    I have to admit that while I’ve never scoffed the hero when they decided to be selfish, I’ve also been guilty of telling myself that yes, I’d be willing to sacrifice myself or a loved one for the greater good. But like you pointed out, I’ve never been in the decision-maker’s shoes (and hopefully I never will be), so I don’t know what it feels like to give up my life, or someone else’s life. And thinking of the many heroines who have to make this choice who are below 20 years makes things a whole lot harder, too — they’re so young and have their whole life ahead of them.

    So I guess my answer to this question would be: I don’t know. I know that’s cheating, sort of, but honestly, I really don’t know what I’d do. I think it would depend on how much I value myself then, and how much I love myself. By nature I’m an incredibly selfish person (and super calculative), so I have a feeling it’ll be tough for me to sacrifice myself just so that billions of other people can live, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to be known as “the girl who destroyed the world because she was too selfish,” if you get what I’m saying.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking question! Sorry if my comment didn’t make sense; it’s late at night and I’m trying to piece together my thoughts without sounding too wonky. xP
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, I know… I’ve been having weird dreams lately after that, and I kinda don’t like it >_>

      Yeah, I understand where you’re coming from. Like what I said here in the other comments, it’s so easy to think we’re above the selfish cretins that we are, that we are better than the primal instinct of self-interest, but in the end, that’s really questionable… if you’re faced with it yourself, can you really say the same? Can you really look at your loved one in the eye and say, “I will sacrifice you, because it’s our social responsibility.”

      And it’s definitely not cheating! “I don’t know” is a perfectly valid answer, and that’s my answer, too. I don’t know, but I will understand if you will take the selfish route, kinda thing. I mean, yeah, the rest will be damned to death or even a life worse than death, but it’s a hard choice. We’re all people. We’re human, flawed, and we all have someone we love and don’t want to lose, so it’s perfectly understandable if you want to be selfish. That’s how I see it now.

  22. says

    Hellloooo, Faye. Long time no talk with you on your blog :) This reminds me of Cinder in Under the Never Sky and the rest of the MCs. Perry and the others don’t choose one person, they choose the majority. Which makes it so f*cking painful to read about. I totally get your point! It’s hard to give up the ones we love just because everyone else will be saved. I can’t even imagine what kind of strength that must acquire. I’m so glad you decided to write about this thought-proviking topic. And nope, probably wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice. Which sounds just as shitty as it would when I’d say that yea, sure! Take every single one of them just to save a bunch of other people. There really is no decent way out of this, is there?

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination
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    • FayeFaye says

      Hey, Siiri! I missed your comments on the blog :) Glad to see your name popping up again!

      And yes, it is painful to read about. Because you’re basically risking your own lives just to save others. It’s a virtuous, noble thing, but it’s hard to watch, too. I know I don’t know if I will ever have that strength.

  23. says

    Now you’ll get me thinking about this and don’t be surprised if I tell you tomorrow that I had some weird dream like you did. Anyhow this is something we see a lot and yeah I don’t think I get it. Like you said it’s something so abstract for me. I’m looking forward some weird dream now. Great post, Faye :)
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  24. says

    I honestly don’t know what I would do. I would always sacrifice myself for my loved ones, but I don’t know if I could sacrifice my loved ones for the “greater good” or anything else. I know, I know, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” but that would be an extremely tough choice. Hopefully, one that I (or any of us) have to make!! It does seem to be a recurring theme, and I always wonder if I’d make the same choice as the characters. Very interesting discussion!!

    • FayeFaye says

      I’ve heard that quote so many times now, but it really only applicable to those who are responsible… I’m not ‘-‘ at least not in this grand, grand scale.

  25. says

    Gads, I need chocolate now. I would need to vet every possible scenario and offer myself up first. I am going to have to pray that this loved one mans up…because I would not be able to sacrifice them. Now if you need someone to go light a match, move a bomb etc to save lives I would willingly do it for my loved ones.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Awww, here’s some chocolate, Kimberly! >.< Sorry if I made you somehow melancholic because of this article! And you have a point... I guess it would be easier to "sacrifice" (in a loose sense) if they were willing to give themselves up first, because that way we won't be making the hard decision. AND YES, ME TOO! If my loved ones are in danger, you know for sure that I'll be the first to help them get away from what's harming them.

  26. says

    Oh, God, this post brings back traumatic memories of when Angel turned evil and Buffy had to kill him to save the world and OMG MY FEELS.

    I get what you mean about it being selfish when characters aren’t willing to sacrifice one person to save the entire world. Whenever that happens I’m always screaming like, ‘JUST DO IT, YOU WIMP!’ But then if I was in the situation where I had to say, sacrifice my mother’s life to save the world, I’d have a hard time coming to terms with it too. I like to think I’d be selfless enough to do it, but I’d still need time to get to grips with the decision.
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    • FayeFaye says

      :O :O :O I would need to watch Buffy. Amir, a friend of mine, is such a fan of that show and has been raving about it on our Google Hangouts!

      Yeah, it’s hard. Like, really, really hard. I’m not selfless and responsible enough for it, and I think would first try to come up ways to find an alternative. Maybe even resist. Maybe even having myself killed first protecting her than letting that happen first.

  27. says

    I always thought that I’d never be a good character in a book since I have no skills whatsoever in decision-making. I can’t even decide where or what to eat at times. That was a nasty dream, Faye, and perhaps I’ll be more inclined to sacrifice myself than to sacrifice others. I mean, they live too, they have a right to their life and they can make the decision for themselves. I would be selfishly fighting for them to be alive though, if I love them very much, but in the end, it would totally be up to them whether they live or die for the greater good. Just look at how Harry Potter turn out to be the sacrificial lamb in the magical world. I hate that Dumbledore didn’t give him any choice but it’s a good thing Harry’s brave and such, and resolved to finally end his life once and for all.

    Lovely intellectual post, Faye, and thanks for the brain jag. Now, I need coffee!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, you’re absolutely right. It would be an easier “decision” if they decide for themselves that they want to do it rather than us making that judgement call for them. I mean, like others here have said, who are we to decide for them, right? It would still be hard to get around this, if it were inevitable. Like you I would fight tooth and nail for them, and look for alternatives, because who could possibly bear losing their loved one before their very eyes? Not me, definitely.

      And you’re right about Harry Potter :( Man, you’re giving me the feels now!

  28. says

    To be quite honest, I can’t actually answer this question. Maybe it’s a bit of a copout, but because I’m not actually in this situation, I can’t really say how I’d react. I could probably think about it calmly and think of an answer now, but if in the actual situation, the pressure and the stress would probably mean that I’d choose differently. Or maybe choose the same, but for different reasons. etc etc.

    Slightly different, but I remember one of my friends, after reading The Hunger Games, was like, ‘I’d never kill other people in a game like this!’ which is easy to say while you’re in a calm situation, but if actually thrown in THG, who knows what people would do… Maybe I would kill everyone. Maybe I’d accidentally eat poisoned berries and die. I just don’t know!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, when you’re facing with the problem itself, it’s really hard to say. There are so many angles to look at and consider first, you know? Is the cause worth it? What would the loved one say? What would it mean sacrificing them? What would it mean to me if I sacrificed them? It’s hard. It really depends on the situation.

      And yeah, if you’re put in The Hunger Games, who’s really to say you wouldn’t kill other people? In that case, are you saying you have a death wish? Because if you’re not willing, other people will kill you. You’re put in a situation where you’re pretty much “do or die”. It’s hard when you’re not given much of a choice.

  29. says

    “Okay, before you all panic” TOO LATE AHHHHH
    Surprisingly whenever I read books where the MC has to pick between a loved one and pretty much everything else I’m always like GREATER GOOD but I never once thought about what it would be like if I, myself had to choose O.O So my thoughts on the situation pretty much match yours. “So the next time I see someone in a book in the same dilemma, I won’t be so quick to judge.” Definitely. It would be so hard. It seemed like such an easy question in a fictional universe and if it wasn’t you in that dilemma. Great post!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Awww, Alise! *pat pat pat*

      Yeah, it’s that social responsibility speaking! The need to have our fictional others to look at the greater picture and think about the majority than the few. But it’ll always be different when we ourselves are in it, facing the same dilemma. That’s why I have such huge respect for characters who are able to decide something like that. I know I wouldn’t be strong enough :(

  30. says

    Wow, that’s quite a subject…Actually, I’ve only read books in which the characters REFUSED to sacrifice themselves or someone else close to them and tried to find ANOTHER way. If I were in those kinds of situation though, I would also try to find another way (like in Once Upon a Time!!) because I’m a believer (oh so chessy but I’m sticking with it. ) I don’t think there is a BAD choice as to sacrifice or to seek another option–guess it depends of the context but darn this is a huge dilemma.
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    • FayeFaye says

      It really, really is! I think I may go that route, too. If I’m in denial, I’d want there to be another way, and I’d fight tooth and nail and all of my limbs just to find an alternative because I know I wouldn’t be able to endure it at all.

  31. says

    This is a very scary post, Faye! But to answer your question, I don’t think I’d be willing to give up my loved ones for the greater good not because I am selfish but because it should be their own decision. I don’t want to influence or force them to do something that they’re not willing to do. Otherwise, the purpose of fighting for the greater good will be defeated because I wasn’t able to respect their choices. As for me, I really don’t mind sacrificing myself because I am only one person compared to those numerous lives that I can still save with my sacrifice. I am not trying to be a hero but I am just thinking about it realistically. I mean, what do I have to lose if I’m gonna die? We all die in the end so why not do it when it’s needed… when it serves a greater purpose? My fear right now is to die due to sickness (like cancer ) where I have to suffer for months. If I have a choice, I want it to be clean and fast. Okay, sorry for sounding so morbid.

    Nice discussion, Faye!
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    • FayeFaye says

      You’re very much right in your account Charlotte. If they’re supposed to be the sacrificial lamb, they’re supposed to go with it willingly. It would only be unfair to them if we decide their fate, even if it’s supposedly for the greater cause. I mean, the impact wouldn’t be as powerful. The message would be for naught. Yes, the world was saved, the people were saved, but it was saved by forcing someone else to risk their life. That’s not how it should be… the nobility in the action disappears.

      You’re definitely not morbid, and you brought up such a valuable point. Thank you for giving your two cents!

  32. says

    I didn’t really take note of that gif until just now. THAT’S WAY TOO EMOTIONAL!
    I hardly remember that movie, the title is even shaky, but I have been wanting to rewatch it for AGES, which is kind of funny.

    I think this is a really fantastic post, Faye- I like that you give both faces to the subject, how you feel now and after, and I just think that made the whole thing a bit more personal and easier to connect with, for me personally.

    I can’t answer whether I would be willing to give up someone I loved, that’s just beyond my capabilities to think of, but without a doubt I would give up myself. I think with all these dystopia’s I’ve known that for quite some time. I wouldn’t even hesitate, I don’t think, not to save someone I loved.

    Wonderful post! xx
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    • FayeFaye says

      I don’t even know where this gif comes from, haha. I just know it shows someone happily sacrificing himself to protect a world he loves, which is spine-tingling just the same.

      Thank you so much for stopping by Romi. I felt that I just had to make it clear that a discernment had to be done before I got to my own conclusion.

      The general consensus seems to be sacrificing oneself seems to be the easier choice out of the two. At least that way you’re clear of guilt, right?

  33. says

    Wow! Great post. My usual reaction is also to just want the MC to stop being so selfish. We all know that they’ll get past it and do what needs to be done. But if I stop to think for just a second about doing the same thing, I’m not sure I could. Then again, I wouldn’t know what the stakes would be.

    Having such a dream like yours is always so special. No one else may truly know what it felt like, but whatever you were feeling must have felt so real and indescribable.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Lina. That used to be my usual reaction, too! I think it will continue to be the same, just less aggressive and forceful now. Haha. And yeah, I actually thought the dream was real! Thank goodness it wasn’t.

  34. says

    Wow, this is a really great discussion topic Faye! I guess self sacrifice for the greater good happens in books all the time, (just look at Allegiant, the Forever Song, and many others) and it just makes their character all the more heroic and it fits in with their duty you know? But it’s true, we can only judge because we’ve never been put in that situation. I love the sound of your dream Faye! Very adventurous lol
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Jeann! Glad to be able to dish out something thought-provoking! :) And yes, I love it when the book includes values about nobility and heroism. I’ve always thought that the sacrifce part is meaningful when it gives out a noble message.

  35. says

    I think I’m far too egoistic to do such a thing. The same with sacrificing myself… I don’t think I could ever be as brave as someone like Harry Potter. I still admire him for that scene, haha.

    I must admit that it sometimes annoys me when they are so selfish, but at the same time I completely understand it. I would never be able to sacrifice someone I love, like my boyfriend..
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  36. says

    I am one of those selfish people. :P I would rather choose my loved ones than others I don’t know. I think it’s hard to go against that because of that deep and emotional connection that we have with these people. And I don’t really recall moments like these in books (because my memory is bad like that), but I have a vague recollection of wanting the main character to choose their loved ones, especially when I fall in love with those people too. I’m just like that, I guess. I think it takes a great deal of strength or crazy to give up those people you hold dear. But if it were me who should be sacrificed, I’d like to believe that I’d give myself up. But as someone who hasn’t been in such a situation, there’s also this feeling of doubt that I wouldn’t be brave enough to push through with it.
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  37. says

    Omg this topic is so extremely deep. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the situation haha. :P When I read books, it’s actually kinda annoying when the main character persists for so long! I understand when they don’t want to, like who would? But when this same ‘complication’ last for half the book or even more, it just gets too far.

    Honestly, I have no idea what I would do. Like you, I probably say this because I’ve never been in the situation. If I’m saving the world, I’d hand the loved one over. But it will be so extremely hard!
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