Shipwrecked: Taking one for the team
I was riveted reading this story.
I kept moving between oh my gosh I can’t believe this really happened and oh my gosh this is so gross but I can’t stop reading and wow this is sooo Life of Pi.
Here’s a quick summary:
Four sailors: Tom Dudley, captain, Edwin Stephens, Edmund Brooks, and Richard Parker, the cabin boy were shipwrecked. After many days at sea with no food, or clean water, they draw lots to see who will take “one” for the team. Nature intervenes and Parker gets really sick. He slips into a coma. The decision is made. Dudley kills Parker. All three eat and drink and survive. They are eventually rescued and subsequently charged with Parker’s murder.
I still can’t get over that this really happened.
What Dudley did was defensible in my eyes. Yes, I subscribe to “Thou shall not kill” and I am also no expert on law and while it may be “reason free from passion” (thanks Legally Blonde), I believe that until we are in that moment, going though the experience of hunger to the point of madness, we cannot pass judgement.
So I endorse what the panel of judges said:
To preserve one’s life is generally speaking a duty, but it may be the plainest and the highest duty to sacrifice it. War is full of instances in which it is a man’s duty not to live, but to die. The duty, in case of shipwreck, of a captain to his crew, of the crew to the passengers, of soldiers to women and children, as in the noble case of the Birkenhead; these duties impose on men the moral necessity, not of the preservation, but of the sacrifice of their lives for others, from which in no country, least of all, it is to be hoped, in England, will men ever shrink, as indeed, they have not shrunk. – R v. Dudley and Stephens  14 QBD 273 DC
What would I have done?
I have learned through taking care of my mother during the final stages of cancer, that you don’t know how strong you are, until you have to be. That was the only option I had. So, would I take one for the team?
Would I take a knife to someone for my own survival…would I offer myself, so that others could survive? On either side of the knife…I would have to be strong.
I know strong. Strong I can definitely do.
But man was it tough being a Richard Parker in the 1800s!!!