Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Debate Tuesday - Principles or Expediency

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What would you do?

On the convenient Tuesdays, I will think of a debate topic that should get us talking. If you have any ideas, let me have them after your have said your piece. Now to principles and expediency. I had a great debate with Atala yesterday on this topic and you know me and debates, they are the food to my intellect. We took sides, doesn't really matter what you actually believe or will do in the situation.

We argued about whether people should stick with their principles when they find themselves in a tight spot or if they should just do what is easy and without fuss. Now this was our scenario.

The US has a policy for non-negotiation with terrorists. So what if a mad man went off half-cocked and stole a plane full of Americans and asked the president for something. Says he'll blow up the plane if his demands are not met. What should the President do?  If you were the president, what would you do if;

1. -said mad man want only $1 dollar (to be donated by you on media) funneled to his charity?

2. - said mad man wants the American flag redesigned by him?

3. -will you wait till terrorist kills first before meeting his demands? And how many acts of terrorism will you stand for before you crack or bend? For example he's killing the hostages one after the other.

4. Say he has 124 hostages, and just as many demands. Will you meet all the demands to free the hostages?

Of course this is all hypothetical. In real life, it my be someone wanting you to break your celibacy, circumstances forcing you to lie, etc.

I argued for principle, the hook being: WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?

What about you?


picture from the web


  1. Debate Tuesdays sound like much fun.

    Principles are alright but they should be flexible if the need arises

  2. So ZeL, what would tyou do in the scenarios described?

  3. I tend to lose respect for people that stand up & loudly profess one thing, then change their stance the next time a harsh wind blows. For that reason, I do all I can to stick to my principles. If I have to change my stance, it will be after weeks of consideration. Not minutes.
    That said, if I were president and claimed no negotiation with terrorists, that's what I'd stick to. My window would have to be really small and well-defined to clearly differentiate terrorists from everyday nut cases.
    As long as a perp's traits fall within that small window and is classified as a terrorist, if i say no negotiations, I'm sticking to it. Blow the 124 passengers plus the terrorist up. That's why I wont run for president.

    Here's my suggestion for a debate topic. There is a group of "intellectuals" (and I use that word loosely) from a specific West African country, coming together to propose that the country's leadership be handed over to anyone but Africans. e.g. a group of successful CEOs from US, Swiss, anywhere white.
    Great or dumb idea?


  4. GHOS, Thanks for the response and the idea. As they say, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Even in our individual lives, these difficult questions come up and we have to make a decision. I think having a benchmark will be helpful.

    For the idea, I have heard it before. Maybe I will consider it.

  5. Honestly, it is easy to justify why people slip against their principles willingly. BUT, principle ALWAYS brings its rewards and of course one should have a certain principle for a reason. If any wind can make one waiver, then that's quite sad.

    But, for what reason would the govt. decide that they will not negotiate with terrorists? Is that the better decision?

    Make sure one has strong grounds for their principle(s) and then stick by it / them.

  6. Hmm, for me, on the above, I think there is a clash of principles.

    Principle 1 - Not negotiating with terrorists.

    Principle 2 - Don't make unnecessary sacrifices when it comes to human life.

    On that premise, Principle#2 would supersede Principle #1 for me...that's my take.

  7. I will NOT...NEVER! redesign the flag for him!..it was earned on the blood of heroes on the battle field to win their independence & would not get it on a platter of gold! but i would meet the rest demands...negotiation is all about compromising on some issues.

    In real life....i would break any principle if is to save a life! Laws were made by men & there is always an exception to every rule...Jesus said, MAN WAS NOT CREATED FOR SABBATH BUT SABBATH FOR HIM!...which means we can change our rules....if lying can save ones life in a particular situation, why not?...ABRAHAM & JACOB did it....is it right...NO!

  8. for a debatable topic...SHOULD UNIFORMS BE INTRODUCED INTO HIGHER INSTITUTIONS TO CURB INDECENT DRESSING & KNOW WHO ARE THE TRUE UNDERGRADS IN THE UNIVERSITY...just a thought. OR in terms of disciplining kids, should 9jas adopt the western style....i.e time-out, grounding, stay in a corner, denying privileges or go straight to your room kind of punishment? which SOME thinks makes more impact than spanking & corporal punishments?

  9. First option but serzly,why should there be no negotiations with terrorists when this has to do with human lives?Mtcheww
    Debate tuesday,hope there'll be lots of political stuff.

  10. @nakedsha, thanks. I totally agree that it is very important to examine the reasons for a principle and know when to step back from them or not. But if it becomes too easy, then one is on a slippery slope.

  11. @Jhazmyn, I like how you unbundled the principles. I think that one of the basic human principles that is universal is that one should not kill a human- deriving from the moral that human life is sacrosanct. So that will definitely play a role in any such decisions like that of the US policy. In our lives, what if there is no loss of life involved but maybe just loss of face?

  12. @Nitty Gritty, You're right, sabbath was made for man and not the other way around. But you agree that it will be a very chaotic world if all men decided to do away with all the rules?

    I like your idea on child discipline. I see that it is a very topical issue and will keep being one.

  13. @Gretel, Yeah, that is the dilemma of a leader who deals with people who do not respect life. But it's also about power and maintaining a position of authority.

    Debate tuesdays, will mainly be about enduring questions we deal with in everyday life, not just politics of the day. Thanks.

  14. Are you for real of the mad man wanting the flad redesigned for him...hmm this debate is funny o. No way, they rather trick him and pretend to give only to have him arrested in the end...Americans are so smart?

  15. How have you been? Been so busy lately, thanks for checking on me. :=)

  16. I think the Scripture were God says Wisdom is profitable to direct will come in handy. I can give many possible statements I will say but truth is I won't know till I am in that situation.

  17. @YNC, I am fine thanks. Your suggestion is so funny. I also said that the emphasis should be on catching the terrorist and not meeting his demands.

    @Harry, true talk indeed. The fact is that we face similar situations in real life everyday where we're tempted to move aside our principles and do what is easy. Wisdom indeed is key.

  18. I always remind myself that principles exist so that we can make ethically sound, yet humane decisions that put others as well as ourselves into consideration. Considering this from the utilitarian perspective, the best decision would be to consider the lives at risk - as is usually done in cases like this. The govt will never publicize this but a higher priority is always given to the lives @ risk than to the "we never negotiate with terrorists" image.

    A lot of times, people forget that we adopt/create our principles and not the other way around.

  19. uhm this is a difficult one
    you could go............Never negotiate with a terrorist (there are many reasons why this is a good decision one of which being that if successful its like giving hope to other would be terrorists)
    but with human life at stake, i say arrive at a compromise with the terrorist.
    ...by the way i loved your examples (imagine a mad man wanting to re-design the us flag lol....hmmm i wonder what he would come up with lmao)

    hmmm i once compromised my principles (abi i speak d oyibo correct?) i felt bad before, during an d after, peer pressure na strong thing sha! after a while though it was normal to me, until my best friend found out! the look of disappointment abi heart break on my face devastated me!
    its about strength to stand strong especially when people around you think its right and are around you cheering you on, it is hard to stand your ground BUT..........it is very doable

  20. You said it, Myne. Just where does one draw the line? Better to avoid 'negotiations'; there will never be an end to the demands.

  21. @48, A lot of times, people forget that we adopt/create our principles and not the other way around.////well said. Important too to remember why we chose them in the first place.

  22. @FSR, its about strength to stand strong especially when people around you think its right and are around you cheering you on, it is hard to stand your ground BUT..........it is very doable///////

    That is the koko of the matter.

    @NaijaLines, the decisions can be difficult o, but that is one thing to bear in mind that may help to strengthen resolve.

  23. The truth is that we all, perhaps on a daily basis are faced with a decision to either overrule our principle(s) for what seem expedient.

    I'm sure careful consideration must have been given to the principle by the US govt not to negotiate with terrorists. They must have looked thru incidents of d past and have found tht it is unnecessary or not the best solution. On this note, we all that have principles made those principles because we at one time or the other thought it fit to be the best thing to do, no matter how difficult where the scenario for its match is concerned.

    For me, no negotiation with terrorists does not mean there isn't anyway around saving lives on a hijacked plane; if the principle is 'No negotiation', we go find a way of saving lives. One thing I have come to discover is, when d cloud is gone & siege is over, people who are found to choose expediency over their hard principles often regret in hindsight.

    Nevertheless, one should not put away the words of Robin Sharma, "the best things to do are always the hardest".

    Thanks for sharing Myne & I must say, u've given me smthn to look forward to on Tuesdays :)


  24. Thank you LDP, that is the koko of the matter...

  25. I don't think that there is any thing wrong in breaking a principle per se.

    The key thing is to understand why you hold the principle in the first place, then to give a lot of thought to the consequences of breaking that principle, and decide whether you can live with that consequence.

    It also helps if you determine to treat the instance of breaking the principle as an exception, rather than using it as an excuse for other occasions on when you might want to break the principle (unless of course, during your examination you have decided that the principle need not be so rigidly adhered to after all).

    But I don't think that it is always very easy or very common for people to continuously re-examine their principles; I suspect that many people may hold to them out of habit.

    As to the question - would I negotiate with terrorists? For me, the reason I wouldn't negotiate is that it would mean a loss of face - other nations or organisations seeing my country as weak and controllable by outside influences. It might potentially create the impression in the terrorist's head that he CAN do anything he likes - after all, he got the President to donate $1.

    So negotiation or capitulation would not be my initial response; however, if things got grisly, I would get some informal contacts to privately negotiate with (not capitulate to) the terrorist, while publicly condemning their actions and vowing to hunt them down.

  26. seeing that this scenario is regarding the Us President, he cant for any reasons, change the idea of negotiating with terrorists, the whole world will be watching
    ...but if its a personal thing, you can do whatever you want, my opinion, you made the principle so feel free to change it whenever you like

  27. I pick the first one, in a situation of two lesser evils then the ends would justify the means making it better to accede to the terrorist demand of donating than to people die whether innocent or not. After all that's what happens now in most of the pirate kidnapping cases.

  28. im going to love debating tuesdays!

  29. Thanks for all the comments, debates are for us to look at different sides of a question and you guys have given me an even more rounded look. Cheers!

  30. I just saw the movie "Unthinkable". Samuel L. Jackson is brilliant in it.

    I wonder how many people will change their comments on this thread after watching this movie.



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