Richard Dawkins – Everything is the Lesser Evil

“As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.”

It was a simple enough belief: if they turned the device on, the world would end. Just like that–no bang, no whimper, just an endless void preceded by a world with such people in’t, never to reappear. It was an uncomplicated belief, but it was strong in its simplicity. It gave Ford the strength to do what needed to be done, even when it meant doing some hard things. Things that got people hurt. It was all for the greater good, after all. It was all for the greater good because what was one person getting hurt–killed even–compared to the whole world being snuffed out like a light?

When he really thought about it, anything was permitted. Anything was the lesser evil. Even shutting the mouth of that man who’d suggested his fundamental, guiding belief was straight-up wrong. That man might not have been really evil at heart, but he was standing in the way of Ford’s purpose. If Ford lost his nerve, then the device might get turned on.

It wasn’t worth thinking about whether maybe, just maybe the device wouldn’t end the world. After all, that would mean everything–every last thing Ford had stained his hands with–had been for nothing.

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