Moral Lessons from 24’s Jack Bauer


Each of us has a moral compass inside.

Are there some people whose moral compass is just off, making them wrong, or evil people?

Its not that simple.

The wonderfully complex hero,  in the TV Series 24, Jack Bauer,  said in the very first season, something that seemed to be a prophecy about himself:

“Nina, you can look the other way once and it’s no big deal. Except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time and pretty soon, that’s all you’re doing is compromising because that’s how you think things are done. You know the guys I blew the whistle on? You think they were the bad guys? ‘Cause they weren’t. They weren’t bad guys. They were just like you and me. Except they compromised once…”

Compromised once, compromised once……

Nobel Prize winner, Alexander Solzhentisyn wrote that we are all potentially good or evil as Jack Bauer.  We are capable of amazingly wonderful feats and horribly evil deeds.  Each and everyone of us:

It was granted to me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how god. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhlemed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.  

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (1973)


Of course the series, being morally and philosophically complex, has its own philosophy book…

Doing evil becoming evil, is a process that begins with one step or one choice.

What do you think? Is the line between good and evil in each and every one  of us?

24 philosphy