What do you do when faced with a dilemma? Sometimes it is not as clear cut as you initially think. My first thought when seeing this snake in the roof was to let the owners know that they had an unwanted guest living in their roof space. Then I thought — what if they panic and try to kill it. It is a harmless snake, not hurting anyone, probably keeping them free of mice and yet their fear might overcome that and cause them to harm it.
This so often happens in life – you know the right thing to do and then your self speak comes in and worries about the consequences that might be caused by you speaking out. You deliberate — should I / shouldn’t I and by the time you have decided then perhaps it is too late to take action and you let it go. The snake has slithered out of sight and you can then happily ignore that you even saw it.
A book that looks at the question of whether to tell or not tell is Herman Koch’s book The Dinner. This book looks at the moral dilemma of two brothers, who over dinner, discuss the unspeakable act of their children. You are drawn to side with one of the two ideologies that arise. I found this fascinating as it was a book read for our book club and the members took different view points. Those with children all went the path that I felt was morally wrong. All without children followed the other. I would like to think that if I did have children I would still have chosen the path I did but that is a question that I cannot answer. It is like believing that, should I be a politician, I would not be able to be corrupted but how can I be so sure? One can believe what they would do but that is easy to say when you are in a position that no-one has any desire to corrupt you. All I can hope for is that I would hope I wouldn’t be corruptible.
When the dilemma posed is that of a snake in the ceiling the outcome effects few and the consequences dire for possibly only the snake and perhaps, if they do attempt to kill it, the would be killer. More people get bitten trying to kill snakes than at any other time. If however, the dilemma is one of national consequence, such as North Korea, the outcome, if either leader becomes fearful, is going to have dire consequences for thousands of innocent people.
What did I do about the snake. I decided to tell the occupiers that they had a snake in the ceiling but please not to harm it. I also gave them the phone number of a snake catcher that would relocate the serpent to a more congenial location. They were grateful. They had suspected due to a bad smell emanating from the vicinity of the ceiling. They would not hurt it.
I hope our world can be saved as easily as this snake.