A moral dilemma

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

A moral dilemma

Postby Stephen K » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:07 pm

A teenager named John and his mother Julia decide to go some place with Julia's husband's car. John asks his mother if she could allow him to drive. She lets him drive. Half an hour later John loses control of the car and hits a tree. John and his mother escape with minor injuries but the car is damaged. John was not supposed to be driving the car. So Julia decides to lie to her husband, saying that she was driving and that she committed the accident.

Later on, Julia's husband asks John whether this is true, and what exactly happened.

Now John has several options. 1) To lie and say that it was his mum who was driving. - OR - 2) Tell the truth that he himself was driving when the accident happened, which would reveal that Julia was lying to her husband. - OR - 3) Refuse to answer.



What should John do? Which is the best option?


(Julia's husband is not John's father)




(The above is based on a true story, though not exactly the same)
User avatar
Stephen K
 
Posts: 778
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:53 pm

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby OcTavO » Sat Jul 10, 2010 1:40 pm

I would say you're missing a fourth option, which would probably be a more correct one in accordance with the Buddha's recommendations on Sila: They both go to the husband together and tell the truth.
User avatar
OcTavO
 
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 3:27 am

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:45 pm

Those kind of questions are a little bit misleading. Both acted unskillfully in the first place and now they have the mess.
I would stay silent, there's no other option left whereby one could prevent further problems.
It's like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
User avatar
acinteyyo
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:48 am
Location: Neuburg/Donau, Germany

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:01 pm

Stefan wrote:
Now John has several options. 1) To lie and say that it was his mum who was driving. - OR - 2) Tell the truth that he himself was driving when the accident happened, which would reveal that Julia was lying to her husband. - OR - 3) Refuse to answer.


4) Point him back at his wife's reply. I would tell him he should clarify it with her.

Gives her a chance to tell him the truth, after he perhaps, ideally, reassured her he would understand if she had been protective of her "cub" and stick to both, no matter what.

My father was quite good at reassuring me that he would not punish me, no matter what I did, if only I told him the truth, so he would be able to help me out better than based on a lie, which would come out eventually.

He kept his word, never punished me, but helped. :smile:

with metta,

Anna

PS:

Stefan, will you share that later on how it worked out?
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/
User avatar
Annapurna
 
Posts: 2639
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:04 pm
Location: Germany

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby Stephen K » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:38 pm

Annapurna wrote:Stefan, will you share that later on how it worked out?


The "husband" never asked. He believed his wife and never doubted her. "John" never told him anything. It's been long forgotten by everyone.

But I was wondering, had the husband asked, what would have the best reply been? In a way, I was thinking it was a choice between lying and breaking people apart. So I wanted to know which of these is the "lesser" evil.
User avatar
Stephen K
 
Posts: 778
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:53 pm

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby kc2dpt » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:40 pm

Stefan wrote:I was thinking it was a choice between lying and breaking people apart. So I wanted to know which of these is the "lesser" evil.

It seems to me it would be a choice between intentionally lying or unintentionally breaking people apart. And we know "evil" goes with "intention" and not "unintention". If the son ratted on the mother with the intent of creating a fight then that would be another story.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby altar » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:02 pm

I would probably say it. I mean, if he's gonna find out the truth soon it seems like, maybe get the wife to say it. But in my experience things shouldn't stay hidden too long. So just say it. "She did it."
Question: Is Julia's husband John's father?
Zack
EDIT: oops, should be, "I did it." And I see my question was also answered.
User avatar
altar
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:24 pm
Location: Monterey, MA

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby Wind » Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:52 am

It's just a car, let the truth be known and apologize.
User avatar
Wind
 
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:10 pm

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:28 pm

If you tell the truth, you're giving these people the opportunity to break away from their usual pattern of bad actions (if there was any), and get into the pattern of right actions. If they don't know how, then help them the best you can.

This would be sharing the Dhamma. If these people aren't buddhists, then don't be obvious about it (like, "Dad... this is what I think the Lord of the Shakya Clan, the Perfectly Enlightened One, would recommend us to do in this situation..." etc.) Just pointing them in the right direction would be good enough.
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: A moral dilemma

Postby Zom » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:46 pm

Tell the truth is the option.
User avatar
Zom
 
Posts: 795
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg


Return to Ethical Conduct

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 3 guests