Friday, October 8, 2010

A Clear Reason

The good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one” the line says from Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. The argument seems valid. If the death of one person can result in saving the lives of a hundred, it seems like a good trade, though none of us want to be that one or for that one to be a close friend. It’s the way wars are fought. A commander doesn’t want to lose men, but sometimes he has to send people into a battle they probably won’t win so that the rest of his men can position themselves for a battle that they will win. Soldiers choose to go to war because they know that even if they die it will make life better for their families back home.

But it’s not easy to show an individual’s willingness to sacrifice for the group. With Spock it made sense because he was a very logical character. From seeing him in action before we knew that for him to do what he did he would have thought it out logically and had come to the conclusion that his sacrifice was the logical option. It also produced great irony because he was supposed to be the least moved by emotion and yet his last act was one of great love for his shipmates.

With normal characters we end up relying so heavily on the emotions of the character. In real life, emotions apply well to a group, but in fiction it isn’t easy to show one’s love for the group. If an emotional character is to make a sacrifice for the group, it seems to work better if the focus is on one member of the group. For example, a man who happens to be in a bank when it is robbed may not be willing to risk his life for the group, but if his wife is in danger, he’ll do whatever it takes for her safety. When our characters do anything, there must be a very clear reason why he would do it.