Monday, February 13, 2006

Button, Button

Do you remember that episode from the 1980's Twilight Zone which featured a mysterious man who approaches a poor couple in order to give them a small box with a button on it, adding:
If you press this button, you will receive $200,000, but someone -someone you don't know- will die.
After agonizing over the decision, the couple decides to press the button, and the mysterious man promptly gives them their money. The man then takes the button box and leaves, and when they ask him to whom he is going to give the box next, he responds:
I'm going to give the box to someone you don't know...
The obvious implication is that they are to be the next to die.

I often reflect on this episode for a number of reasons. It communicates the simple lesson that our actions, good or bad, do have a relative effect on others. Further, it shows that we are connected in ways that often extend beyond our immediate environment or era. Also, it shows our human tendency to see our own problems (as well as those close to us) as deserving of more immediate attention over the needs, or the life, of another person whom we don't know.

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