Last night, Chris and I saw the Arthur Miller play All My Sons on Broadway. I’d previous read and studied Miller’s Death of a Salesman (which oddly enough, resonated with me when I thought of my own family setup) and of course The Crucible, but I’d never read All My Sons or known the story line until last night. It’s based on a true story about how an aeronautical corporation conspired with army inspection officers to approve defective aircraft engines that would ultimately be used in the military during World War II. Joe Keller committed this crime and framed his business partner for this, and his partner ended up going to prison, but he continued to be successful and wealthy. It all comes to a head when his son wants to marry his business partner’s daughter during this show.
Joe Keller defends himself, saying that he lied and committed these crimes because he did it for the family, to ensure that they’d be comfortable and have everything they needed. But his lies and his crime resulted in the deaths of so many innocent people who fought in WWII, so is it truly justifiable to say that he “did it for the family”? Is family enough to justify the needless deaths of innocent Americans serving to defend their country and what they stand for? It’s a hard question when you think about it — what are you willing to do for your family and those you love, and how far are you willing to go, even if that means indirectly killing complete strangers?
It’s a disturbing thought when you think about it. It’s capitalism here in America, and it seems like most people will stand up for themselves, their families, and no one else. So in other words, we’re almost incentivized to be more and more selfish.