Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by orthogonal, Jul 5, 2002.

  1. orthogonal Registered Senior Member

    I came across the story of Jean Moulin recently in a book by John Ralston Saul, On Equilibrium.

    Moulin was a civil servant, in fact, France’s youngest prefect before the Germans invaded in 1940. On June 17th of that year two Gestapo officers arrived at his office demanding that he sign a false statement accusing a number of black African troops of murdering French civilians. When Moulin refused they began to beat him. After an extended period of abuse Moulin was thrown into a prison cell. The officers told him that he would sign the paper the following morning. Moulin determined that night that he would not sign the paper. He found a shard of broken glass and cut his own throat.

    Saul explains that it is no easy task to commit suicide by cutting one’s wrists or throat. The arteries lie under layers of muscle. If the artery itself is not opened, the cut usually clots before death. This is what happened to Moulin. The Germans found him the next morning and decided that in order to avoid embarrassment (these were the early days of the war) they would revive and release him.

    Moulin made his way to London to obtain resources and training. He then parachuted back into France where he went on to head the French Resistance. He was arrested in 1943 and tortured by none other than the infamous Klaus Barbie of the Gestapo. Moulin withheld the names of resistance fighters, and eventually died while under torture on the 8th of July, 1943.

    Saul writes, “…most of us will likely drop dead on a subway platform, in the middle of an orgasm, or straining away on a toilet in the morning.” Moulin’s horrible death at the hands of the Gestapo could have been avoided by either collaboration, or merely turning a blind eye. Yet his courage was deliberate and unyielding. Goethe said, “A useless life is an early death.” Moulin died quite young at the age of 44, yet I can scarcely think of a better way to die. His life was anything but useless.

    Last evening I sat on the boulder in front of my hut and watched an unbelievable number of simultaneous 4rth of July fireworks displays. I had the best seat in the State, perhaps even in the Nation to see fireworks. As far as I could see up and down Lake Champlain, there were huge displays on both the Vermont and the New York side of the lake. At one point I counted eleven separate displays with many more distant displays reflected in the clouds on the horizon. The air was perfectly still and I occasionally would hear a low-pitched report from the distant fireworks. This immense display of patriotism brought Jean Moulin to mind. His patriotic sacrifice was to a group of non-French Africans whom he would never meet, as well as to his own countrymen despite the fact that few of them chose the path of resistance. He chose to follow his own conscience.

    Most of us will never be called upon to stand shield to shield, as did the three hundred Spartans who defended to the death, the pass at Thermopylae against the mighty Persian army. I could easily see myself doing this. My thoughts would be of my wife and my sisters in the city at our backs. If we failed, then I assuredly would not want to live. To stand and fight next to my comrades when defeat is not a living option is more an act of necessity, rather than bravery.

    How different was Jean Moulin’s heroism; alone in a prison cell, alone in torture, hopeless, yet certain in his resolve. If he could give up so much for his fellow man, surely we who are asked to do so little, could at least treat each other with kindness and respect? I’ll likely never have to withstand torture. I’ll likely die in my garden, or shoveling snow. My death will not be glorious, but perhaps there is time yet in my life to take up a tiny portion of Moulin’s immense determination for good, and make my life into more than simply a finite number of heatbeats.

    It seems that Jean Moulin was a beautiful man, and a hero to us all.


    Last edited: Jul 5, 2002
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  3. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

    Thanks very much Michael. I'm reminded again of this:

    Leonidas's Spartans have always been great heroes of mine. Everyone dies; there's no way to avoid it. But to die without giving in to whatever life throws at you, that's special.
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  5. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Very touching, orthogonal. A story of a true patriot. One who could not in good faith leave his country to the oppressors. One with courage and determination. That is a rare quality in people. Even rarer is the heroism. To know what you face and do it anyway.

    In my line of thought it is far easier to be the hero of the moment. To dash into the water to save the drowning child, to rescue a survivor from a most certain fiery death after a car crash, or to simply save a life by refusing to let them go and apply first aid knowledge or life saving techniques. To be the hero of the moment takes no thought only responce. To be the hero of the story above is intentional and with forethought.

    Thanx for sharing...
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  7. Squid Vicious Banned Banned

    On such ideals does idealistic nationalism perservere.
  8. mgs Registered Member

    This story reminded me that maybe we can maximise benefits, like J.Moulin did. My guess is that we could if we could discover what opportunities exist for us to have maximum positive effect.
    I have scanned the net for some hours to discover such opportunities, and my results are presented at www.student.unimelb.edu.au/~msephton/plansummary.htm.

    My guess at the moment is that we could get much benefit by understanding threats like of the core of the earth exploding, of economies being hindered by bankruptcy, and of asteroids destroying us, of people's theories being dismissed by ad hominum arguments rather than those addressing the supporting and refuting evidence.

    I have another guess that we could create an information network addressing the most important issues from the standpoint of wishing to be heroic, in order to separate the relevant information from the fragments of relevant information, to facilitate useful understanding.

    How do you think we can be heroic, ie. get maximum positive effect?

  9. Xev Registered Senior Member

    This is not much of a threat. If you want me to show you why, I'll dig some stuff up and post it in earth science.
  10. mgs Registered Member

    earth explode

    if you post information about why the core is not likely to explode in earth science, then people can understand the truth about that issue and respond to it without assuming it is far more important than other issues, therefore could you please post that information
  11. Unregistered The Original Conservative Registered Senior Member

    Excellent orthogonal, very emotional. I would hae never know about this man had you not shared the story.I also agree that dying in that way is the best way to die. Had Leonidas and his troops given up in Thermopolaye, the Spartan civlization would have been lost. This is the true definition of heroism; willing to give one's life in the name of right and good.
  12. ndrs The Anti-Cthulhu Registered Senior Member

    Exactly, what does heroism has to do with war?
    Saving yourself, so you can go and lead another Resistance to kill more people?
    Why was he a hero, because dared to commit suicide? Are those people who never get to commit suicide (get killed first) less of a heroes?

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