There’s something I would like to tell you. I’m not sure how you’ll take it, but I hope you are able to understand where I’m coming from.
If you and I were being held at gunpoint by a madman, I have a plan. The plan hinges on the madman asking ME who he should kill first.
He’d say, “You pick, princess. What’ll it be? I either shoot your friend first, or I shoot you. Who dies first?”
I would think out loud. I’d look at you and say, “If I say me, you have to live with the knowledge that I died for you. You would have to watch me die and that might be hard. You’d be very sad and I don’t know that I want you to be that sad. However, if I say you first, then I have to watch you and the pain of going on without you, even for just 2 or 3 minutes, might be totally unbearable. Wow. This is a tough decision.”
Then, I’d look at the madman and ask him how long after shooting the first person does the second person get the bullet. I’d probably explain that I neither want you to have to live very long knowing that I gave up my life for you to live a little longer, or that I couldn’t go on that long without you, and so the amount of time the other person would be feeling any distress over watching the other die will most certainly play a part in my decision.
No matter what the madman answers, I’d tell him, “I’ve decided that I’m not going to decide. YOU decide. I can’t make that choice. At this point, he’d probably say something like “If you decide to not decide that’s the same as deciding that you go first.”
To which I’d respond, “What if I was under the impression that not deciding was, in effect, dooming my friend to die first?”
He’d likely counter with something such as, “OK, you not deciding means I kill your friend first.”
I would let out a deep sigh. I have my monologue for this portion all prepared. I came up with it in my kitchen this morning while making coffee (true story).
“So, in effect, I have three choices – my friend goes first, I go first or I say I won’t decide, in which case means my friend goes first. So 2 out of 3 choices are my friend dying first. That kind of negates the whole 3 choice thing. I’m still down to either my friend going first or me going first. Now, if I choose me going first, there’s really no need for any further conversation. If I choose my friend to go first, then I have to decide if I’m going to say, “Kill my friend first” or if I’m going to refuse to decide, knowing that means that you’re killing my friend first. Really, you’ve made it impossible for me to refuse to decide. You are forcing me to choose. How about if I refuse to decide, then you surprise me? I mean, in saying I can’t decide, I’m saying that I won’t play your game. Instead of choosing, what if I say absolutely nothing? Just sit here and smile? Would you then be watching my eyes to see if they move in the direction of my friend, as if to say, ‘do me last’?
At this point, the madman would become totally irritated by my rambling. You’d have freed yourself and would be preparing to hit him over the head with a chair. As you swing the chair down, over his head, the gun goes off and you’ll watch in horror as I fall, in slow motion. You’ll rush to my side and offer your sincere apologies.
As you hold your hands over the entrance wound, trying to stop the rush of blood, you’ll promise me that you won’t leave my side. I’ll tell you, “I’m sssssoo c-c-c-cold”. You’ll be crying at this point, and a tear will have run down your nose to poise on the very tip before it drips onto my face.
I’ll try to tell you something important, but I will bleed to death before I can let it out. It is because of this fear that I’ll tell you that important tidbit now.
Should this scenario every truly play out, I’m letting the bastard shoot you first.