International ethics of fighting

First though: there was no rain today! 😃

The ground outside was very soggy though. I took Scully for a big walk at lunch. It was good to get out and into the fresh air after being cooped up against the elements for so long.

This morning I had my first lesson on the current ethics topic of “Fighting” with kids in American time zones. Most of my classes are in the afternoon or early evening, and attended by kids from Australia or Asia (in similar time zones) or Europe (where it’s morning there). Those classes are in the middle of the night in American time zones. My opening story is about the Burr-Hamilton duel, and the first question I ask is: “Is it okay for two people to agree to have a fight?” (I don’t specify with or without weapons – those are follow-up questions.) The kids from Australia and Asia and Europe have almost all said it’s not okay; people can get hurt or killed, and it’s better to solve an argument by talking.

This morning I had a class at 9am, which is afternoon/early evening in American time zones, and so I had my first batch of kids from the USA in this class for this topic, three of them. I was slightly taken aback when every single one said that it was fine if two people agreed to fight one another. And when I pressed and asked if it was okay if they fought with weapons, they all continued to say it was okay; they agreed, they knew what they were getting into and the dangers, there was nothing wrong with that.

It’s small number statistics, but I’m amazed by the clean split in opinions between non-American and American kids on this question.

The theme continues with other questions: “Is it okay to defend yourself if you get attacked? To try to hurt your attacker to get them to stop?” Almost all the kids so far said yes. But when I asked: “Is it okay to defend yourself with a deadly weapon, like a knife or a gun?” all of the Aus/Asian/European kids said either outright no, or yes but you shouldn’t try to kill them – you could shoot in the air to scare them off, or shoot a limb, but not shoot to kill. However, all of the American kids said if you’re attacked it’s absolutely fine to shoot and kill your attacker. One went so far as to add that you should be praised as a hero for doing so.

So yeah… this theme continued throughout the whole class. The American kids were much more comfortable with the idea of fighting, and of solving things with violence. Again, small numbers, but there are obvious statements that could be made about this. I’ll be interested to see what happens when I have more American kids in this class on Monday morning.

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One thought on “International ethics of fighting”

  1. Cultural differences – other countries will give different answers. It’s depressing how much trouble aomeone can get into by not realising the people in front of them believe in different ideals. You should ask about self sacrificing – going to the military to be a soldier or avoiding it on purpose. Where I live, for example, some groups think it’s the highest honor to fight for your country, and some groups think they can serve best by praying and studying all day.

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