Looking at today’s daily prompt, I find it quite astounding that just in one of my previous posts I had wrote pertaining to survival, which inspired me to give this title and this being a continuation of sorts. So after reading R v Dudley and Stephens I like most have mixed feelings about this.
So firstly, long story short, if you didn’t bother reading the wiki article which is still small, four crewmen of an English yacht, the Mignonette, who were cast away in a storm some 1,600 miles from the Cape of Good Hope, were stranded in a life boat. They were Tom Dudley, the captain; Edwin Stephens; Edmund Brooks; and Richard Parker, the cabin boy. Parker was 17 years old and an inexperienced seaman. After a weeks of survival with no food or water, facing a storm, fighting a shark and resorting to drink their own urine for surviving. Parker fell ill and subsequently in coma due to a combination of famine and drinking sea water. After several discussions of sacrificing one so that the other three may live, Dudley with the aid of Stephens killed Parker (killing him before his natural death would make it possible for them to drink his blood) and the three lived on eating his flesh. They were rescued four days later.
After their rescue, this sparked quite a controversy among law makers, seamen, and the public, which developed a crucial ruling on necessity on modern law. The main question however here: Is what Dudley did defensible?
This is not a simple yes or no answerable question, it has certain multiple sides to it. The question is not about whether what he did was right or wrong, but more of necessity and subsequently survival. Firstly Dudley was the captain, and wasn’t it that the captain goes down with the ship? He was the one who ultimately decided that one down is better than four. Was it justified? Not necessarily. Was it practical? Yes. In that situation that was the only practical thing which could have been done, the other option was to wait it out with the possibility of dying. And the instinct of survival is in all living creatures. Who wants to die? (unless you life is a complete mess and you think of kill yourself)
What I find very frustrating was the fact that the reason that Dudley and Stephens were family men so ‘their lives were more important’. What makes their lives more important than the other(s)? And wasn’t the Custom of the Sea that the captain goes down with the ship?
Coming to me, What would I have done? Well I’m not in that situation so I can’t answer honestly. But if it would arise, then I would take the practical route as always and would have gone that course just like them. And if I were in the place of Parker, I would prefer a swift death than suffering (saying purely in such a context only). I’m not going to see how I’m feasted upon after I’m dead right? But in all reality, I would honestly prefer to live it out, and die fighting for survival, if there was any hope of no one getting killed. But again, we can’t say for certain without being the situation itself, and while each life is valuable, who decides that? Like I said in my previous post, live and die on this day.
And lastly, I again found it bit funny that the recent very hit and a moving movie on survival, Life of Pi, the tiger’s name is also Richard Parker. And it has the exact same context as here, you would have realized that if you have seen it, if not I recommend that you do. Looking at my posts, I should perhaps recommend a movie/book in each of my posts now right?