A Continuation of Today’s Conversation… (I did not want to take away from anyone's blog post, but I wanted to post something for you to read in your free time)
First of all, I was very enthralled by the depth of today’s class discussion. I’m glad to have a place to understand people’s perspective on issues that I care about. Towards the end of our discussion, we were trying to define what exactly the duties of the state to the people and the duties of the people to the state are. The film seems to imply that the duties of the state operate on an institutional scale, while the duties of the people are much more personal. To me, one of the most vivid expressions of this belief is Colonel Jessop’s testimony. After he is pushed to his limits, Jessop rationalizes that the murder of Santiago while illegal objectively probably saved many more American citizens’ lives. In this way he shows that the state most often values the whole over any singular individual. The best course of action is the one that saves the most lives at the lowest cost. Further, this cost is justified as a sacrifice for the greater good.
On the other hand, the people, represented by Kaffee in the film, are expected to protect the individual. I think that this is best illustrated by the arguments made by Kaffee and Galloway in the courtroom. They serve to remind the jury that a single life has immeasurable value to someone whether it is a parent or possibly a close aunt. The people serve to complicate the discussion of what is right and wrong that is made unrealistically black and white by written law. I think that this provides a good check for a system that by its definition cannot easily see issues from an individual level. The people must in turn cooperate with the state, an entity that understands how to manage costs so that long-term goals are met and who can better see the big picture.
In their differences, the state and the people are pivoted against each other in this conflict so often found in human nature. That is, what is more important: the good of the population or the welfare of the few? However a government chooses to answer this question determines how much power it or any other institution should hold over its citizens.
I also came out of today’s class with questions of my own. I wonder if anyone else sees how Colonel Jessop’s character parallels Antigone? They both break the law in their attempts to serve their personal moral code, and they are both consequently punished for their offense though they arguably leave believing that they made the right choice. Also, I personally think that every human life has value and that the murder of one to save many is not justified. However, Jessop’s testimony made me at least think critically about my stance. Does anyone think that Jessop made the right call? Lastly, I think that Colin made a great point about how we view men and women in the media. Why do we view women more often as sexual and men as professional though they are shown in similar situations in the film? I think that this is because we have been socialized to measure each gender’s worth by these respective standards, but I am curious if anyone has a different perspective on the topic.
Thanks again for an enlightening discussion! :)