The notion that ‘The end justifies the means’ carries with it a historical as well as a political implication. The maxim holds that provided the final result will be ‘beneficial,’ the action employed to achieve this goal ought not to be a factor to be considered. It will matter less even if it calls for people to be killed, or rules to be broken to realize such an outcome. It is worth noting that, only on rare occasions does the ‘means’ and the ‘ends’ favor all the people. Many times the ‘end’ is achieved by people at the expense of others following the ‘means’ employed and this is why I do not conform with this maxim because I believe that it is not true. The 1800s American-Indian scenario supports my stand.
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History provides a good number of illustrations that show that the end does not always justify the means following the evident harm that results from the means. For instance, history depicts a time when my country chose to impose laws that gave the privileged white settlers a chance to grab the lands of the poor American Indians during the 19th century. While the result was to accumulate wealth and allow the spread of the white settlers, the means to realize this goal consisted of the passing of the Indian removal act that called for the displacement of the five chief Indian tribes. These ’means’ welcomed a lot of hardships for the displaced Indians who never knew where to settle as a result. This suffering explains the root cause of the then conflicts between the Indians and the armies. This ‘means’ could not be justified by the ‘end.’ However, there exist some exceptional cases about the maxim as expounded next.
Only in rare occasions will the end be justified by the means. President Truman’s decision gives this illustration. Following the predicaments of the Second World War, President Truman came out with opinions that were aimed at defeating the Japanese people as well as ending the war. However, these decisions have been subject to discussion. It has and will continue to be a debate on whether the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bomb that was dropped in Japan during World War II was an effective means of terminating the war. This decision is acceptable on one hand and arguable on the other. The bomb led to the end of the war, saving over 250,000 lives of the American soldiers, among many others around the world where the war would have spread to, hence acceptable. On the other hand, it led to the death of almost 150,000 Japanese people and more so, giving the reason behind the prevailing Japanese paralyzed people. Therefore, about the entire world, in which Japan is a member, the ‘end’ of war justifies the employed ‘means’ of the bomb. Nevertheless, my own experience disagrees with the maxim as the next paragraph explains.
“Do not do what the wise men condemn even to save your mother from starvation” (Narapalasingam 656). These words clarify that, even if the result is to our benefit, we should not deprive other people of their rights in our endeavor to achieve the benefit. This is the rule I applied in a golf tournament episode. I have lived to love playing the game of golf since the age of six. As a principle, I believe that playing the game by the rules is far much important than winning the game itself. I can recall two instances when I called penalties on myself knowing very well that it would raise my score and cause me to lose the match. Although the end goal was to finish first in these events, which was possible to me, I could not, by all means, cheat to achieve this, and hence, the end could not be justified by the means since I do not concur with the maxim.
Narapalasingam, Smith. The End Justifies The Means And Other Damaging Beliefs. Sri Lanka: Word Press, 2006.