Sunday, April 15, 2012

When is it right to do something wrong?

I met my great grandfather as a child, but I was to little to remember anything about him. The things I've heard of him as I grew up has been coloured by the opinions of the person telling the story, but there is still a theme. Some things that keep coming back in the stories are his hot temper, stubbornness and his moral compass, that seems to have guided him in the right direction through life.

The later is why I was stunned to find out that he went to prison. At first I thought it had to be a mistake, that I heard it wrong, and I had to ask if I heard it right. My grandaunt assured me that it was so and then she told me the story. I should have known better than thinking that he was a common criminal, once again his moral compass was pointing in the right direction.

It happened during WW2, times was hard and there was little food. My great grandpa always found a way to feed his own, but there was a family in town that was starving to death. He and others shared what they had with the family to keep them alive, but it was a long cold winter and their supplies would not last. One of the other men in town reported that he had seen a moose, and together with some other men they made the decision to go poaching. They found it killed it and hung the meat. As I've said, times were hard, and they were not the only poachers in town. The other poachers was afraid of being exposed and they reported great grandpa and his friends to the police.

That's why he went to prison. He got the longest sentence since the meat was found in his possession. My relatives also claim that he took the time because he did not rat on the riches man in the group. (The relatives of that men tells a different story though.)

This brings the classic moral question up again. When is it right to do something wrong?

It's most often put this way; Is it wrong to steal a loaf to feed your starving children?
My opinion has always been that, yes, it's wrong though it's understandable. That you steal from someone is wrong, their possessions are theirs. If you steal from a store then you are not only stealing from the owner, you are stealing form the other costumers too. Store owners raise the prises on what they sell to cover what they have lost.

A moose don't belong to anyone. Killing the moose did not put other people in a difficult situation. It's still wrong to hunt out of the hunting season, but I understand why they did it. In the end I'm proud that me great grandfather went to prison by doing something wrong to make things right.

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