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I have been wondering how we would react if our economy really does crater in the proportions of the Great Depression. I came across a book while at a university last week - What Really Matters: Living a Moral Life in Times of Uncertainty and Danger.  It is so interesting.  The author is a psychiatrist and anthropologist at Harvard Medical School.  He just discusses cases he has had of people who lived through conditions that later caused some psychological stress because they could not rectify their actions or situations with their morals.

You can read part of it on Google books.  The first story is so interesting - a man who made it all the way through WWII, was a successful businessman and then when he was 60 almost had a nervous breakdown remembering the people he killed during the war.  One Japanese doctor in particular, whom he shot as he came upon him caring for a wounded soldier, kept haunting him as a Christ-like figure.

Have others wondered what they would do if pushed to the limits?

Personally, I feel individual ethical concerns such as this are perhaps better dealt with in fiction. A general treatise on the subject of ethics is, obviously, non-fiction, and such a treatise could, of course, refer to actual cases such as the one you mention. But if a non-fiction work were to deal specifically with, say, the instance you cite, it would, in the first place, seem to me something of an intrusion into that person's privacy; and, in the second place, is likely to enter into conjecture regarding what imay or may not be going on in that person's mind. Fiction, perhaps paradoxically, can make these issues more universal. The greatest authors of fiction have dealt with issues such as the one you describe.

       Big Readers Forum Index -> Non-fiction categories
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