To begin, excuse me for my use of certain words in this post. I will always attempt to use the most proper vocabulary available, but occasionally I am deprived of a word that expresses my meaning. In these cases I use words meant to strike the most appropriate conceptual cord in order to convey the message as completely as possible. “Identity” in this post refers to what I feel is the constant in each individual. Some indirect references to it would be ‘personality’ and ‘soul.’ It incorporates the perspective of the individual and his or her expression from that perspective, both-in relation to all of time and space.
-I will make an introductory post in the future that will more comprehensively explain the above notion of ‘identity.’ For now, read my post Cube People.
Imagine you are walking down the sidewalk at night on a deserted street and a stranger whose features you can’t make out approaches you. Your natural reaction might heighten your senses and your heart might beat faster.
The stranger attacks you, forces you to the ground and holds a weapon to your face.
The stranger says, “Give me your money or I’ll kill you.”
This is where you have two choices: you give the stranger your money or you deny the stranger your money.
There are two defined outcomes based on the choices: you will die or you will live.
You don’t really know what the stranger will do to you if you don’t give up your money, and you don’t need the money yourself for any specific purpose.
You also don’t want to give the money you earned to a stranger who at that moment deserves it less than anyone else.
So, you could either live by giving up your money, thereby submitting yourself to the stranger’s existence and discarding your own existence temporarily; or, you could die by denying the stranger your money, thereby enforcing your own existence through confronting the stranger’s.
This hypothetical situation is ignoring the other two possibilities: the stranger could have no intention of killing you if you deny the stranger your money, or the stranger may intend on killing you even if you give the stranger your money.
In this situation, it is pragmatic to give up the money so that you can live your life beyond the robbery, so assume you make this choice. In doing so, you momentarily kill your own identity for the sake of surviving. By surviving, I mean the organs that make up your body do not expire. You as the person you are dies; everything that makes up your identity- your personality, your perspective on reality, all of it dies when you become subservient to the stranger. Your new identity becomes associated to the stranger instead of yourself, even if for the brief amount of time the two of you interact.
Because of your choice to give up your money you invariably are the one who kills you, not the stranger. Subjectively speaking, this circumstance is the most unfortunate one because what happens is the stranger is only guilty for triggering you to kill yourself and you end up being the one who is guilty for consciously killing yourself.
Under your new identity as the hostage, your main purpose is to appease the stranger’s wish to have your money. The stranger doesn’t kill you, body or identity. And the stranger’s act of taking the money is consensual under your new identity under the stranger’s existence.
After the stranger leaves and you reflect on the experience, you have to reassemble the identity you just killed in the face of death. This is an act of reanimation though, not revival, so your final identity, which you believe to be your original one, is a disfigured version of your original identity.
The idealistic choice to deny the stranger your money leaves you exposed to the reality that you will be killed by the stranger as a result. You will have kept your identity alive, albeit at the death of your body.
When your body dies, all metaphysics aside, your identity will die with it. This means that, like in the other example, your identity will die by the end of the hypothetical.
The difference between this choice and the other choice is that you are not at fault for the cessation of your identity. In this situation you will have done everything you could to be you, to manifest YOUR existence, and as a result when the stranger kills you with the weapon, the stranger will actually be guilty of killing you, body and identity.
Instead of a blend of retroactive ethical economics as in the first available choice, the second available choice expresses proactive ethical economics of the two different identities confronting each other and manifesting themselves to the greatest of their abilities.