The price of helping someone

      3 Comments on The price of helping someone

Today, Hypothica-style topic submission!

I’ll quickly answer a question that I get a lot. Most of those posts are a submitted idea, and I’ve written the content myself. Unless the “idea” is completely inapropriate, illegal or is spam, I will post something about it, but I can’t garantee it will be quick. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out how to describe the idea in an interesting matter, so there might be delays. It is also 100% anonymous, as you can see, i’m not putting the name of the person who submitted it.

This post is one of those that I’ve received a pretty long time ago, but I really had trouble deciding what to write about it. Sorry anonymous user for the delay. I’m still not satisfied with the result, but I can’t reasonably delay it more than that.

If you were just walking in the street, and you see someone get hit by a car. You are the only witness around, and the driver runs away very quickly. The person who was hit definitely needs help. You would usually call the police, call an ambulance, and try to help the person by maybe assessing their wounds, giving first aid, just moving them out of the street, etc. You would do something. In many countries, not helping would actually be a crime.

Let’s say that everything ends up fine, the victim survives thanks to you, but this morning you are late to work. That seems like a minor trade-off for saving a life. Your boss will most likely understand and you won’t get in trouble.

But then, what if, instead of being late to your job, you are late to an important meeting, and lose a huge contract because of that. Was it worth it? You will probably still say yes.

What if helping actually needed you to stay here for the whole day? Is your answer still the same?

Now let’s get into hypothican territory, where you can know for sure what would have happened had you done the other thing. We have complete control over ridiculous premises for the sake of argument

In our situation, saving this person, one way or another, made you lose a thousand dollars. You were also planning on using this money to donate to shelters or something like that. In that case, saving that life has a real chance of preventing someone else, maybe many people, from getting help in the near future. Was it worth it?

What if helping this person poses a risk to you? You won’t die, but you might get hurt helping, is it still worth it?

What if helping this person takes a LOT of your time, and considering that time is a limited resource for each of us, effectively costs you a fraction of your entire life, maybe something like a month or a year, is it still worth it?

Precisely, everyone would draw the line somewhere. I don’t think anyone would commit genocide to save a stranger’s life, but most people would be willing to spend 5 minutes of their life to do it.

Where would you draw the line for a complete stranger? What would you be willing to sacrifice to help someone you’ll never meet again?