A trolley is hurtling down the tracks. There are five workers on the track ahead of the trolley, and they will definitely be killed if the trolley continues going straight ahead since they won’t have enough time to get out of harm’s way. There is a spur of track leading off to the side where another person is working. The brakes of the trolley have failed and there is a switch, which can be thrown to cause the trolley to go to the sidetrack. If you pull the switch, the one worker will surely be killed. What should you do?
This philosophical question is commonly asked among classrooms and has sparked much consideration. I actually debated this topic in high school and became closely aware of both sides of the issue – yet I don’t think I came to a final decision myself. While I found this question to be quite intriguing, I never thought any one person, country or nation would actually be faced with such a similar predicament.
What I am referencing, of course, is the returning of Gilad Shalit to his home in Israel. After five years of compromises, campaigning, anger and sadness, Israel has finally won the battle – while possibly threatening the country’s security and well-being. After being held captive by Hamas for all these years, negotiations have finally been settled. This news is without-a-doubt something to celebrate, but also one to fear.
Hamas did not agree to return Gilad without putting up an unbelievable fight. In order for this one Israeli soldier to be returned safely, Israel agreed to free 1,027 of their Palestinian soldiers – including at least 300 prisoners, sentenced for killing Israeli citizens. A list including half of the prisoners’ names are to be released this Sunday; Israel Prison Service plans to give Israeli citizens 48 hours to review the names and send in personal disapprovals to certain releases. But no matter how much these requests will be taken into consideration, the risk is unimaginable.
Putting good-natured morals aside, it is hard not to wonder how the Israeli government came to such a dangerous decision. Every citizen, (especially one serving to protect the country), should count – but at what cost? A Washington Post article explains:
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously warned that a swap for Shalit would free dangerous militants and put Israel’s security at risk. But amid a relentless campaign by Shalit’s family that won the hearts of the Israeli public, Netanyahu ultimately bowed.”
Though frightening, the decision that Israel made is unbelievably commendable. They picked the one worker on the trolley track over the five because they unconditionally value each and every one of their own. Does this send the message to dangerous organizations that they can easily take advantage of the little ethical country? Maybe. Either way, Israel did not turn on the imprisoned soldier, and everyone must acknowledge and learn from this dilemma.
(Photo courtesy of sxc.hu)