My Trolley Problem – A Poem

Today’s the day, I know that well.
Today I’ll have to take the L.

The train is fine, for transportation.
That’s not the source of my consternation.

You see I avoid the L, at all cost,
To keep my mind from getting lost.

There is a dilemma and I can’t stand it,
Which keeps me from this public transit.

It’s known in class as the trolley problem,
a series of dilemmas and I can’t solve ‘em.

What would you do, if from down the tracks,
Came a run-a-way train with its cars jam packed,

Bound for workers taking their last breath,
Unless you pull a lever to send it left?

To divert the train means life for many
But death for one,
The new guy,

He’s busy welding on the other track,
Headphones in, showing you his back.

The dilemma’s a problem, for the dull and the clever-
Think about it, would you pull that fateful lever?

If you refrain, they’ll surely die,
But at least you won’t have killed a guy.

But if you pull to send it left,
Only Kenny’s wife will be bereft.

What should we do, how can we choose?
In either decision, a life we lose.

That’s bad enough, but it gets worse,
What if it was your loved one bound for a hearse?

If Kenny was your father, brother, or son,
Would he then have more value than everyone?

Endless scenarios are generated;
the questioner never satiated.

To stop the train, would you toss a young lass?
Would you push a fat man off an overpass?

What would Kant say if he were in my midst?
Should I act as a deontologist?

Or should I heed John Stewart Mill,
Should the consequences determine who I kill?

Perhaps there’s a third way, a mean of gold,
That which will best cultivate my soul?

This deliberation has made me screwy,
For that I can thank Dr. Luy.

He dropped this bomb onto my lap,
It’s his fault I’m still thinking of this stupid– stuff.

I’ve avoided all trains ‘til I can answer well,
But today I’m forced to take the L!

If I could, I’d rather über,
I’d take a Lyft, skateboard or scooter!

My therapist says I have to face my fear,
She’s making me ride the L for a year!

So here I am, as the train arrives,
With a stiff upper lip, trying not to cry.

I should make peace with my station, it does no good to pout,
Man, I really really hope the train’s breaks aren’t out!


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