O’Neill’s K3 million hand-out on eve of no confidence vote
Peter O’Neill lied to me about Rio’s decision to quit BCL



Dilemma - "To have to choose one of two alternatives, both unfavourable; to be forced to choose between equal evils."

IN THE 1960s British philosopher Gilbert Ryle wrote an influential book entitled Dilemmas and this has become a foundation text for many Ethics classes to this day.

My late father once told me of a heart-wrenching dilemma in Papua New Guinea faced by his best friend from student days, Ernie Lemke.

After graduating in the late 1940s, Lemke ended up as a young missionary in Papua New Guinea with his lovely wife and first-born son.

They were travelling up the Fly river in the wet season on a mission boat when there was a fire in the engine room and the boat exploded throwing them into the river.  

Ernie found himself floundering in raging water desperately trying keep afloat while holding on to his wife and son.

She cried "Save him! Save our boy!"

Lemke knew he had enough strength to take only one of them to safety on the riverbank, so he took his son, telling his wife he would come back for her.

He struggled against the fierce current and managed to land the boy safely on the shore before immediately diving back into the water to find his wife.

But she had been swept away and he could find no trace of her.

There is a similar heart-breaking scenario in the film Sophie's Choice.

When confronted with a life or death choice, what do you do?

You will find a similar dilemma and perhaps an answer in Thomas Keneally's great book Schindlers Ark (made into a Hollywood film by Steven Speilberg; but read the book, always better).


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bernard Corden

A similar dilemma also occurs in Mister Pip. Which is one of my favourite books.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)