One thing we must note is that the sacrifices to be made are not always considered acceptable. Indeed the very way the proposition to make the sacrifices is advocated as the greater good; the people are coaxed into thinking about the potential gains from the proposition with the hope that they will make those sacrifices more easily. This is however not always the case, and is one of the main reasons why people often, and especially nowadays, look upon the phrase with contempt and distrust.
Let us consider a few ways in which this phrase has been used. The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a classic example. President Truman defended his decision to order the dropping of the bombs on grounds that if the war was allowed to continue, many more lives would have been lost on both sides. Hence the bombs, which exacted a terrible toll on human life and ended the war, were dropped ‘for the greater good’ – they may have killed many thousands of people, but helped save many more. Here we see an example of why, as mentioned previously, most people are divided, suspicious and otherwise troubled upon hearing this phrase. It often hints at having to choose between grim and painful choices, sacrifices and compromises that are not easy to make.
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