Created By: neoYTPismMay 11, 2011 Last Edited By: neoYTPismJuly 5, 2011

Need To Survive For Their Cause

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"I don't see myself as a hypocrite, I need my life to fight for the rights of animals."
- Mary Beth Sweetland of PETA, type-1 diabetic opponent of experiments on animals, on using insulin to survive; this method of keeping type-1 diabetics alive was found through experiments on animals.

Do We Have This One? Oh, and I am open to title suggestions.

This is a justification (whether sincere or disingenous) for people who keep their survival through morally ambiguous means. Perhaps they are accepting what they would otherwise consider ill-gotten survival, and want to convince people they are not Hypocrites. Perhaps they refuse to make a Heroic Sacrifice, and want to convince people they are not Dirty Cowards.

Whatever the scenario, they will talk about their life as if it is a means to another end; as if only they could provide the help their cause needs, and therefore they need to survive for their cause.

Contrast with Survivor Guilt, something this reasoning often overcomes.

Examples:

  • The above example is the real-life case of Mary Beth Sweetland invoking this; of course, whether she is being sincere or disingenuous is debatable, as is the question of whether said contradiction is justified or not, but someone's answer to one question doesn't necessary imply one's answer to the other.
  • Used in the Necron level of Dark Crusade: As this is the only level in which the general's death brings failure, part of the opening cutscene for each race is the troops begging their leader not to throw his life away (as you need to bring the general to the deepest point of the catacombs to place a bomb, then get the hell out before it explodes), to which he replies that the campaign to clear the planet is not done, and he has no intention of dying before this happens (it's the units who insist they need his leadership, not him though).
  • Princess Vivi in One Piece is specifically told to do this. To survive no matter what so as to get word of what she's learned spying for Baroque Works back home. The main thing she does towards this end is ally herself with a crew of pirates.
  • In Nepeta Quest 2011, Nezumi hates Zander for not doing this.
  • Used in Casablanca where Lazlo is the one who needs to survive and Ilsa needs to be the one with him to make sure he does.
  • Terminator 3 has Schwarzenegger's character telling John Connor to act like this.
  • Starship Troopers. When Rasczak's Roughnecks get to Whiskey Outpost on Planet P they find that the troopers guarding it have all been slaughtered by the Bugs. While searching the base they find General Owen hiding in a cabinet, which is rather strange since he should have fought and died alongside his troops.
    General: I had to evade capture. The security of the Federation was at stake. I have operational knowledge of what we're up to out here.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • May 13, 2011
    Chabal2
    Used in the Necron level of Dark Crusade: As this is the only level in which the general's death brings failure, part of the opening cutscene for each race is the troops begging their leader not to throw his life away (as you need to bring the general to the deepest point of the catacombs to place a bomb, then get the hell out before it explodes), to which he replies that the campaign to clear the planet is not done, and he has no intention of dying before this happens (it's the units who insist they need his leadership, not him though).
  • May 13, 2011
    Jordan
    Why is there the spoiler after the word PETA? Is that deliberate or some kind of mark-up thing?
  • May 13, 2011
    neoYTPism
    ^ My idea was originally to put it in a hottip, so that people would have to click it to see the explanation of why she is (arguably) a hypocrite. I figured it would come across as nattery if taken out of spoiler tags.

    ... come to think of it, I may as well do so anyway.
  • May 16, 2011
    Arivne
    Film
    • Starship Troopers. When Rasczak's Roughnecks get to Whiskey Outpost on Planet P they find that the troopers guarding it have all been slaughtered by the Bugs. While searching the base they find General Owen hiding in a cabinet, which is rather strange since he should have fought and died alongside his troops.
    General: I had to evade capture. The security of the Federation was at stake. I have operational knowledge of what we're up to out here.
  • May 20, 2011
    neoYTPism
    I suppose that example raises the question of whether or not the description and/or title ought to be expanded to cover things like evading capture as well. Any suggestions on how to do that?
  • May 20, 2011
    Arivne
    ^ The reason he was giving the justification is that he did survive "through morally ambiguous means". As a military officer he should have fought and died alongside his troops.

    I have edited my post to add that information.
  • May 22, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Ah, good point.
  • May 23, 2011
    Medinoc
    Re Dark Crusade: Only for the good(ish) races: Chaos and Orks simply have their leader saying they aren't planning to die there. The Space Marines are a good example, however.

    Didn't The Princess Bride have something about needing to live?
  • May 23, 2011
    sgamer82
    • Princess Vivi in One Piece is specifically told to do this. To survive no matter what so as to get word of what she's learned spying for Baroque Works back home. The main thing she does towards this end is ally herself with a crew of pirates.
  • May 23, 2011
    Medinoc
  • May 26, 2011
    neoYTPism
    ^^^ Not going in the examples section until something more specific is presented.
  • May 26, 2011
    Earnest
    An outright villainous example of this are Straw Hypocrites.
  • June 5, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Not necessarily, they could very well have consistency as one of their Evil Virtues.
  • June 5, 2011
    Earnest
    True. Mostly I'm thinking of the cases where the Straw Hypocrite at least invokes this trope as an excuse to justify beating a hasty retreat.

    Magneto in the first X-Men film comes to mind, using Rogue to power the mutant making machine because he ultimately wasn't willing to die for the cause.
  • June 6, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I've been trying in vain to remember or find the source of this, but I've read or heard an anecdote about an American Humane Association person on set for The Killer Bees or some such other Attack Of The Killer Whatever movie, to make sure that the bees (or Whatevers) weren't being harmed; but when a few landed on the AHA person she started swatting them. When called out on the hypocricy of that, AHA person replied, "it's different. This is survival."
  • June 6, 2011
    Tifforo
    Terminator3 has Schwarzenegger's character telling John Connor to act like this.
  • June 8, 2011
    Allronix
    Used in Casablanca where Lazlo is the one who needs to survive and Ilsa needs to be the one with him to make sure he does.
  • June 12, 2011
    neoYTPism
    ^^^ I do not think that quite qualifies as an example. This is about survival that is (at least expressly) about keeping yourself alive for your cause, not about survival in general.
  • July 4, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Come to think of it, now I'm kind of left wondering if the description might be causing confusion; does it seem clear enough so far?

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