Distinguishing between “should” and “would”

I often distinguish between what I’d like to do in a given situation and what I’d actually do.

For example, I once watched a movie called Brothers with my dad. The movie is about an American soldier who gets captured in the Middle East and forced to kill a fellow soldier to stay alive. I remember wondering what I would do in a similar situation. I asked my dad, and he said straight up that he wouldn’t kill his friend.

I agreed, but in my mind I made a distinction. I know what I want to say I’d do, but I also conceded that I might not actually do that in the moment. In the moment, I might kill my friend.

To me at the time, admitting that seemed like a way to be honest with myself, a way to express how I actually felt and how I’d probably actually feel in that situation. Now, though, thinking back on it, I’m not sure this distinction is healthy.

No matter what my dad says, I know the choice would be a tough one for him to make. He could have admitted what I admitted too. But he didn’t. He said flat out that he wouldn’t kill his friend. Now that I think back on it, I’m wondering if perhaps making the strong statement now would somehow make it more likely that my dad would actually make that decision if he were ever put in such a terrible situation.

I, on the other hand, would probably waffle, thinking back to my not-quit-so-firm stance in my living room. I mean if I can’t claim a strong stance in the comfort of my home, how will I make the strong stance in the misery of the moment?

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