(Implying: the duty of going to war, to sea, etc.)
Attributed to Lord Bacon as well as various
bureaucrats/military leaders of the Roman Empire.
Modernly, however, the phrase has come to mean or to be
associated with the fact that society will not excuse the killing of innocent
others merely for the purpose of preserving or saving oneself. That is to say, when faced with imminent
personal peril, one is not excused to kill another innocent individual even if
such an act would remove the peril altogether. And while many among us may
wonder why anyone would think along such lines much less need to be reminded of
the wrongfulness of killing innocents, it seems all too often that society
is faced with one that didn’t understand this simple rule.
"To preserve one's life generally speaking is a duty,
but it may be the plainest and highest duty to sacrifice it. ... Though law and
morality are not the same, and many things may be immoral which are not
necessarily illegal, yet the absolute divorce of law from morality would be of
fatal consequence[.]" Regina v. Dudley and
Stephens, 14 Q.B.D. 273 (1884).
AVT (April, 2012)
PS. Mind you, should there be any that need to hear such - given the modern world, there is no purpose for this blog entry other than the fact that I believed the saying to be an interesting proverb-like statement with an interesting history behind it as well. :)