The celebrated Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa is known for crafting movies that grapple with moral dilemmas. In his highly regarded work, High and Low (1962,) a successful self-made millionaire faces a wrenching ethical conundrum: his son has been abducted, and he must give up everything he has worked hard for to secure the ransom. However, he soon discovers that the kidnapper mistakenly took his chauffeur’s son instead. The question now becomes: is the life of the worker’s child worth the same sacrifice as his own? In a powerful scene, the millionaire and the chauffeur lock eyes, and the viewers are left to ponder if all lives are equally valuable.
What makes this movie a standout is its portrayal of the intricacies involved in making difficult moral choices. Our conscience cannot always provide us with the necessary guidance to navigate the complex ethical issues we face in modern society, particularly when competing values and interests are at play. Ethical decisions are about more than just meeting a specific standard, as many dilemmas are so multifaceted that it’s difficult to distinguish good from evil or determine which choice is most worthy of preference.
The key takeaway is that tackling complicated moral problems requires continuous effort and investment in researching and contemplating the proper response. Seeking input from trusted colleagues who can provide a secure space to explore the nuances and implications of difficult decisions, particularly those you might not feel comfortable discussing openly due to societal pressures, is critical.