You have been preparing for a government job exam from two years and you finally get a call for an interview. On the day of the interview, your bus suffers a fault and it stops in the middle of nowhere. You are getting late and in one hour you should be present at the interview venue. The bus driver tells that all the passengers should search for an alternative to reach their destinations if they are getting late. So, you try to look for a lift from the cars passing on the road. After 15 minutes, you finally manage to get lift. At the same time, another lady comes to you and requests you to let him go as his mother is in hospital and she is critically injured. There is only one seat. What will you do in such a situation? Will you allow the lady to go to the city first? What are the options before you? Discuss them with their merits and demerits? (250 words)

Conflicting priorities in life pose challenge to an individual’s emotional intelligence and the strength of his/her ethical framework. The case presents an ethical dilemma where one has to choose between his personal well-being by attending the interview and social responsibility of helping the lady by allowing her to take the lift as her mother is lying in hospital.

The various options available in the case are:
(a) Taking the lift myself and going for the interview: As he has been waiting for this interview call from long, taking the lift will allow him to reach for the interview on time and get the job. However, this is choosing one’s personal interest over the social and moral responsibility of helping the lady as his mother is critically injured. The lady must be in panic and hurry more than me as her mother is hospitalised.

(b) Allowing the lady to go to the hospital first: This will help me to achieve a sense of personal satisfaction as I did what I could do to make the lady reach on time. Moreover, the lady will be thankful to me for helping her and it is possible her good wishes may help me to get another lift and I am able to reach for the interview on time. But, this is worth taking the risk by waiting for another vehicle which could give him lift as it could even take a long time to get the vehicle. His career prospects would be temporarily diminished, but he can definitely work harder next year. Doing this good work will also make him ethically stronger.

(c) Seeking help from the car driver: He can try to seek help from the driver. As there are two people already sitting in the car, he can ask if there is no emergency, one of them can come later on and allow both him and the lady to go to the city. He can do so after explaining them about the criticality of the situation. It is possible that the driver might held him.

(d) If he has his mobile phone with him, he can arrange for some help by some of his friend. Meanwhile, he can reach for the interview and ask his friend to take the lady to the hospital.

The moral values that are at stake in the question are virtues of empathy, altruism and integrity. Taking the lift and reaching on time might help him to achieve his dream and enter the prestigious government job. If he allows the lady to go to the hospital and he does not get another lift meanwhile, he may regret it later.

As per Kant’s categorical imperative, running away from duty or social responsibility is not right. Humans should always be treated as ends rather than means. Thus, he has to use his emotional intelligence and take a prudent decision.

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