If I hadn’t done it someone else would have:

     This is a common rationalization countries use for arming countries that have immoral policies.  The rationale is it's better to have an immoral regime that's on our side then one that's on the side of our enemies.   What often happens is that the country being armed obtains arms from both sides when convenient. 

    This rationalization is also used to justify trade with countries guilty of human rights abuses.  The rationale can be paraphrased as "If we don't sell to them someone else will and someone else will make the money that we could have made."  

I was only following orders:

   This was a common excuse given by Nazis accused of war crimes at the Nuremburg trials.  In Nazi Germany if you didn't follow orders you would be killed.  If you were a commander and your orders weren't followed your subordinates would be afraid that you would have them killed.  If you didn't follow the orders of your superiors you would be killed.  Yet the only reason you would be killed is that the killer would be following orders to kill you. 

One person isn’t going to make a difference anyway:

    Individuals sometimes avoid taking moral action because they believe that by themselves they won't make a difference.  Inherent in this assumption is that others won't help one make a difference.

    All the above excuses make the assumption that others will behave in an immoral way.  It is likely that others who are engaging in immoral behavior are making the same assumption.  If we stand up and act in a moral way than others will see that their assumption that everyone will act in an immoral way is wrong.   As a result they will be more likely to behave in a moral way.  Although a drop of water cannot turn a mill many drops can.  The following is a song popular among movements trying to make a change for the better that expresses this concept.


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Step by step the longest march
Can be won,
Can be won.
Many stones to form and arch,
Singly none,
Singly none.
And by union what we will,
Can be accomplished still.
Drops of water turn a mill,
Singly none,
Singly none.

    Sometimes it may be prudent to delay acting in a moral fashion until one is in a position of strength.  It may be prudent to work on putting oneself into a position of strength first.


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