Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Death Note dilemma

Would you do it?

If you had a Death Note, where if you could write down the name of any individual and kill them, would you choose to do it? And if you had that sort of ability, how often would you use it? The idea of writing off some horrible person, like a dictator, or mass murderer seems really appealing, and you might think you're doing a just and moral thing, but are you really? How guilty is the murderer of a murderer? Everyone at some point has had these sort of dark and destructive emotions towards another person, and you've wished with all your might that the person who did you wrong would just drop dead. It is a very natural feeling that we all have from time to time. Still, if a Death Note fell onto your lap, would you be able to write someone's name in it, knowing you caused someone's demise?

I remember reading a news story about some young men here in America who got in trouble in their high school because they made makeshift Death Note's and were writing down the names of the kids who bothered them. In this case, the idea of a Death Note was innocent in my opinion because it's somewhat therapeutic. Instead of acting out your emotions, you write them out. It's a form of catharsis. A release of dark emotions in a safe and contained way. Sadly, I think the said students were expelled because someone caught wind of what they were doing, and the schools administration felled threatened.

In the anime and manga series of the same name, the Death Note is a supernatural item that is owned by shinigami (grim reapers) so that they can do their duty of reaping souls. So, in essence, the notebook itself and it's inception are a natural part of our cosmos and serve as a means to an end. The trouble comes about when the power of the notebook is abused, as it was in the series under the guise of "justice". Justice itself is a tricky idea because you want to believe that justice does exist in some proper form in the universe, but that isn't the case. In the show, "justice" is simply Light Yagami's own "opinion" of justice. He really thought he knew better than anyone else, and thought himself worthy of dishing out his own personalized form of justice to the world.

Intentions certainly matter, and you can view Light's actions as pure at the start, but cruel at the end. I'm of the opinion that his actions were cruel from the start. A death penalty without the chance of redemption? That's obscene. As far as I know, there is no definite form of justice that will leave everyone happy. Some folks believe the death penalty is a fine and viable way to pursue justice, but others believe letting someone spend the rest of their days rotting in a prison a better form of justice. I'm not too sure with either I'll be honest. Personally, if I happened to find a Death Note, and I knew it was the real deal, I would burn it out of existence. It's too much power for anyone to posses. And I think most people would do the same as me. Although I know there are hardened, and bitter people in this world, I want to believe that most people are strong enough to withstand such a temptation. I would rather live my life giving people the benefit of the doubt and believe that they will withstand those dark emotions that creep up in their hearts.

So, it's definitely food for thought; What would you do if you had a Death Note? Would you even be able to grasp the full scope of the responsibility that comes with the power to bring swift death to a person or people? What are your thoughts on the various people in history and in our time who have this sort of power over the lives of people? Play with this concept for a while in your mind, and you'll find that finding an answer is fairly difficult.
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