Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Ethical Dilemma on 24

The final episode of the seventh season of the TV series 24 was aired on Monday night, US time. It's one of the few shows that I follow almost religiously (the others: American Idol, Fringe, and The Office). I caught the 24 fever from San Francisco, from my hosts there, the Moredos, and I've made sure to keep up with it after I came back home. I remember downloading three episodes at one time because I missed the shows at some point, and as I watched the 3 episodes one after the other, I realized I was palpitating for 3 straight hours too.

I'm not going to give out a lot of details, in case some of my (thousands of) readers haven't seen the season finale. But in that episode, I realized that I've come to develop great respect for the character Cherry Jones plays, US President Allison Taylor. She was confronted with very tough situations and had to make difficult but critical choices. More than all the national security breaches that she had to handle and the innocent lives she had to protect, what most earned my admiration was her decision toward the end of the episode not to cover up for her daughter.

The tension in that White House sitting room was compelling. Jonas Hodges, the villain excellently portrayed by Jon Voight, had a hand in having the President's son killed. Hodges was the same man who was killed as a result of Olivia Taylor's (the President's daughter) machinations. Henry, the President's husband, thought that she had sacrificed enough for her country and that she should destroy evidence linking her daughter to the crime. His reasoning: they've already lost their son, they shouldn't have to lose their daughter too. Not without agony, the President disagreed and gave up her daughter to federal custody. The President later said that she doesn't think her husband would ever understand why she had to do what she did.

I think this raises a very important question. If this situation were reality, do our national leaders have the conviction to make the same decision that President Taylor made? But I also think that an even more important question is one for me (and every single moral being) to answer: faced with a similar situation, will I have the same conviction, the same moral uprightness to make that difficult but absolutely right choice, even if it means harming someone I love?

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