Making Tough Choices in the Apocalypse

tara-and-oceanside-walking-deadSpoiler alert for episode 7:15 of The Walking Dead, Something They Need, aired 3/26/17.

In the last episode of The Walking Dead, Tara tells Rick about Oceanside, despite promising she’d never tell anyone. and Rick’s group goes to take their guns. Despite the fact that she made the promise to Cyndie, who saved her life. Twice. (Three times by the end of the episode.)

Rick tells Tara, “You don’t have to feel bad about it.”

Group members have had to make a lot of tough choices, and the show is no stranger to moral dilemmas, but Rick’s response struck me as callous. It’s a classic case of thinking that “the ends justify the means.” Rick is so sure that he’s right, that the Saviors must be stopped by force, that he’s okay with stealing in order to facilitate that.

Lying (breaking a promise) is wrong. Stealing is wrong. No matter how well-intentioned.

I don’t know what I would do in that situation. Tara knew about the guns, and she’s watched members of her group die at the Saviors’ hands. It’s a desperate situation. If I were protecting my loved ones, I might do the same. I might justify it in my mind so that it seemed like the right thing to do.

But to say that she doesn’t have to feel bad is a cop out. In the post-apocalyptic world, sometimes there’s very little separating humans from monsters. In fact, the monsters aren’t really the threat anymore. Isn’t feeling bad when we do wrong one of the things that separates us from the monsters?

At the end of the episode, as Tara strolls out of Oceanside, she looks at Rick and says, “You’re right; I don’t have to feel bad,” as if it’s something profound. As if she’s just learned a secret.

If that’s the case, what separates Rick’s group from Negan’s group, other than intentions? And do good intentions matter to the people they stole from?

What do you think? Should people feel bad about breaking a promise, even if they believe they have a really good reason? Or does the safety of everyone (because Oceanside will be safer without Negan) justify the stealing?