Bitch on the Blog

February 12, 2017

Hell, water and drowning

Just when you think yourself as snug as a bug in a hug with, more or less, all questions of ethics and their answers under the belt one sneaks up on you.

Holy cannoli – the noose tightens.

This, drawn to my attention a few minutes ago, is so awful I am in knots.

For sake of argument you have to assume you have more than one child. You find yourself at the mercy of the elements and you can only save ONE of your children. Which one would you save? This is so awful I can barely get my head round it. Naturally, as one does, I cast my eye back to my family of origin. Who would either of my parents of four have saved? I dare say, being quite a bit older than my siblings and therefore stronger, both my mother and my father would have left me to fend for myself. But that still leaves them with three to choose from. I’d rather not pursue this line of thought. It’s unsettling beyond belief. At least that’s tonight’s nightmare guaranteed. Not that members of my family normally play much of a role in my dreams.

Any crutches of your own thoughts on this truly horrendous scenario welcome.




  1. No problem here — only one child.

    Comment by cheerfulmonk — February 12, 2017 @ 00:56 | Reply

    • That’s why I said “For sake of argument you have to assume you have more than one child”.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 12, 2017 @ 04:32 | Reply

  2. I remember my heart breaking reading Sophie’s Choice. As to my own two. I don’t know. I don’t want to know.

    My parents would have left me fend much like yourself as we are eldests.

    My granny, though, would have let the other 25 go to the fires and saved me.😀


    Comment by wisewebwoman — February 12, 2017 @ 01:46 | Reply

    • Thanks for reminding me of Sophie’s Choice. Whilst I know about both the novel and the film I somehow have been able to “avoid” them.

      Who our parent saves can be a signifier of so many things. Not necessarily the first that springs to mind, namely who the parent prefers. I believe it much more complicated than that.

      What prompted my post was a film I watched and the twist in the tale stings. Scenario being one father and his two sons – both of them apparently drowning. The one the father is trying to save dies anyway. As results go you can’t beat it. The other one miraculously survives. But now he KNOWS who his father, seemingly, preferred. HA. Fast forward a couple of decades and you have a murder mystery on your hands not least because the mother of BOTH boys took exception to his decision. Life is great, ain’t it?


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 13, 2017 @ 00:22 | Reply

  3. This is one of the stories that psychology researchers use in their work and almost all the respondents are students of psychology. There never is one answer to such questions but the answers lead one to come to some judgement about one’s logical thinking process. Here is a story once again with many possible answers.

    Comment by rummuser — February 12, 2017 @ 12:16 | Reply

    • Thanks for the link – though in the case described it was expediency that dictated what needed to be done.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 13, 2017 @ 00:29 | Reply

  4. I just KNOW exactly who my parents would have saved… and it wasn’t me…. but ask my sisters and they’d say the same….. I can imagine both of them saying, “Isn’t it about time you leraned to swim?”
    Now why did I immediately assume that “at the mercy of the elements” meant drowning?

    Comment by magpie11 — February 12, 2017 @ 14:06 | Reply

    • Yes, Magpie. But we are not talking “parents” though, admittedly, I did mention parents myself. The dilemma is close up and personal. In my opinion parents don’t come as a united parcel. So who would your mother have saved, who would your father have saved? And, more importantly, WHY?


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 13, 2017 @ 00:24 | Reply

  5. I would have thought it unlikely that all four children would be in danger at the same time. If two children were in danger, then each parent could rescue one child. If all four were in danger, then I guess you’d have to rescue the youngest, most vulnerable pair and leave the others to fend for themselves. Hopefully after rescuing two, you would then be able to rescue the others – provided they hadn’t been engulfed by flames or a riptide.

    Comment by nick — February 12, 2017 @ 20:03 | Reply

    • Oh Nick. Your reply has exhausted me. I wish I’d never brought up the subject. Not that I blame you that you have totally not got what the dilemma is about. It most certainly wasn’t meant as an exercise in logistics. Never mind.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 13, 2017 @ 00:25 | Reply

  6. I think most parents immediately veer towards the younger ones on the premise that the older ones have more survival skills. To misquote Shakespeare, this is a worst case scenario that I dream not of.

    Comment by Maria — February 13, 2017 @ 16:20 | Reply

    • No doubt, Maria, that there appears a general consensus to save the “baby”. Yet, the irony, Maria, the irony in the case of my youngest sister. She cut off all contact with my father years ago, and now my mother too on grounds no one appears to be able to fathom. It’s a mystery to the extent that voices have been raised as to her level of sanity (you may smile – she is married to a psychologist seventeen years her senior). As the only one of her siblings who has been hanging on in there – both in terms of helping my parents in their grief over the loss of their youngest daughter and my sister by listening to her woes – I don’t share the view that she is off her trolley. But somewhere along the lines she has lost the plot. Or lacks something. LIke, say, compassion. Yet, her face that of a saintly Madonna. And she herself has four children. Let’s hope that the Angel’s often mentioned Karma won’t kick in and bite her when she is our mother’s (and father’s) age.

      Yes, so anyway, and obviously this is hypothetical: Imagine my father/mother had saved her and let the others drown in the safety of their own fight against the elements. They wouldn’t have anyone now.

      It’s a dastardly difficult question I posed. In the last analysis unanswerable. And yes, considering that you yourself are the mother of several children, I think your paraphrasing Shakespeare hits this crooked nail of a question on ethics dead on the head.

      Hope you are well and all is going swimmingly (!),


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 13, 2017 @ 16:44 | Reply

  7. Flip a coin? I have an acquaintance from a communist country who survived, even though she was the one who lost the coin toss.

    Comment by Looney — February 14, 2017 @ 13:58 | Reply

    • Leaving aside that it’d be difficult to toss a coin – even if you had one – water engulfing you, fact is that some of the most far reaching decisions in life are when you are on knife’s edge, haven’t got time to give it much thought, have to go by gut instinct.

      To turn my original post into further torture I played the scenario, say, which friend would you save, which one of your parents; you can play this ad nauseam and be left with little; actually left with nothing other than confusion and a feeling of being vaguely sick to your stomach. Sometimes I think: Let’s just all drown. Taking a short cut so to speak.

      And then there are facts: I would never put the question to the Angel because it’s not fair, yet fact is that if he was forced to chose between saving his father and me he’d chose his mother. But then, maybe, that’s only natural for a son.

      I am toying with the idea of putting the question to my parents. My father will, diplomatically, deflect the question and go off on some philosophy tangent. My mother will protest. Never occurred to me to ask because I don’t need to, but my three siblings who always fought for my mother’s attention once asked her which of her three younger children (leaving me aside) she loved most. Or whose company she preferred or some such. My mother claimed (and I actually do believer her) that she loves all her children the same. However, in the drowning scenario I dare say she may once more prove how pragmatic she can be when the straits are dire.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 14, 2017 @ 14:49 | Reply

      • PS Fast forward a couple of hours. I did phone my father. It can be comforting when people react as expected, it can be disheartening when people are predictable.


        Comment by bitchontheblog — February 14, 2017 @ 17:11 | Reply

      • Just checking out an article from the Daily Mail about archaeological findings of child sacrifice in Carthage. Probably shouldn’t bring that up. I don’t like to spend too much time dwelling on the kind of tragedies that I might face, such as being compelled to decide the fate of Iphigenia. My sense is that the youngest child is the one who will be spared based on the laws of human nature, but my friend that I mentioned above was the youngest, and the family was starving. Perhaps urgency will impose a different choice than if you have time to reflect?

        Comment by Looney — February 15, 2017 @ 03:05 | Reply

        • As you say, “urgency may impose a different choice than if you have time to reflect”. No doubt that is where the expression “act in haste, repent at leisure” comes from.

          As I wrote in my reply to Maria, and chiming in with your friend’s experience, what started the thought was the story of a man who had to choose between his two young sons (ages, say, six to nine).. He chose one (who died in the accident despite his father’s efforts) observed by the other who miraculously – and without help – survived. Et voila, twenty years later you have a murder mystery on your hands. And no – it wasn’t patricide.

          Iphigenia, child sacrifice. Greek gods were harsh. They not so much tested your faith as gave you marching orders and little choice. To think that Greece symbolizes the cradle of democracy.

          I hardly dare to admit it: From when I was told the story first, as a child and even now, I held/hold a special hatred for Abraham. To this day I remember the illustration in my book where Abraham stands over Isaac lying down on a pile of rocks and stones (the “altar”). Yes, the ultimate sacrifice. To make it even more evocative the drawing also showed a little lamb frolocking around. Enough to strike the fear of daylight into me, luckily tempered by my own vision of the world.


          Comment by bitchontheblog — February 15, 2017 @ 17:18 | Reply

  8. I don’t know what I would do if forced, I don’t want to know either. That said, I am a Full Time Caregiver of a Disabled Spouse and two Special Needs Grandchildren who I have had since birth and have Adopted. Caregiving is exhausting even for one, so when my own Health began suffering from the strain a Doctor told me that Caring for three might be too much for one person. So, who do I throw overboard was the dilemma… my answer, to the Doc and anyone who asks, NONE, if we go down, we all go down with the Ship together… that is the only choice I can Live with and thus, I’d rather risk my well being by not sacrificing anyone else and making any ‘preferred’ choices that would Save me and perhaps just one. I have a Peace about that decision and as a person of Faith, leave the rest in God’s most capable Hands since I refuse to decide otherwise. Remaining up by Faith that I can continue Caring for all, and Trusting it will hold. Dawn… The Bohemian

    Comment by Bohemian Valhalla — March 6, 2017 @ 17:48 | Reply

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