The Parable of the Sadhu
Bowen H. McCoy
In the Parable of the Sadhu, a group of climbers from different cultures came across a Sadhu, an Indian holy man, who was frozen and barely alive. The members of the party responded accordingly and each played a role in helping the Sadhu out. Both external and internal forces, however, collectively kept the hikers from devoting their full attention to him. The problem seemed, as McCoy later pointed, that once the Sadhu became too much of an inconvenience, he was handed off to someone else. Consequently, no one knew whether he had lived or died. In essence, no one in the group took ultimate responsibility for the well-being of the man. The decision to leave the Sadhu later left McCoy feeling guilty about his actions. The perspective that McCoy took in his actions on that mountain were Utilitarian at best. At the time the event on that mountain took place, he was interested in doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people involved. He had verified the Sadhu’s pulse and even cradled him. He wanted to help the Sadhu further, but he was concerned about the group’s ability to withstand the heights to come. Also, the climb they were on, for many, represented the chance of a lifetime. He thus left the Sadhu with his partner, Stephen, and the rest of the group. Stephen exerted more energy in ensuring that the Sadhu was, at least, handed down to one of his porters and escorted down the mountain. When he met up with McCoy later on the summit, Stephen rebuked him for potentially contributing to the death of the Sadhu. In the coming days after the hike, Stephen pointed out how the case of the Sadhu represented a “good example of the breakdown between the individual ethic and the corporate ethic… When (the Sadhu) got to be a problem, everyone just passed the buck to someone else and took off.” (1) While Stephen did not actually know the fate of the Sadhu, his response to the moral dilemma...
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