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Journal Article Review #1: Parable of the Sadhu

Yen Hoang

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Journal Article Review #1: Parable of the Sadhu

This article review will contain a summary of the article, a listing of three discussion

questions, and a response to each of the discussion questions.

Article Summary

A group of people set the plan to climb over the Himalayas, and to most of them, this

experience is considered only one opportunity in life-time. The team is included of the author,

Bowen McCoy and his friend Stephen. During the journey, they have met with other teams

which come from different country but having same common goal to defeat one of the highest

mountain. In order to reach their destination, they need to go through the mountain at 18,000

feet. During the journey, when taking a break at 15,500 feet, a New Zealander who was leaved

before team of Bowen McCoy, had come back with unconscious guy named Sadhu. New

Zealander claimed that he found Sadhu shivering in cold with bare foot when trying get across

the mountain. He was very upset because it would delay his journey since he wanted to get over

the mountain before the snow started to melt down. And it will make the extremely difficult to

and even dangerous to climb the mountain at such situation. He decided to hand Sadhu over to

team of Bowen McCoy because he already did his part and he believed it was right for other to

take responsibility. Leaving Sadhu behind, New Zealander and his team went ahead with their

journey. Bowen and his team was left in a difficult situation, and they started to have argument

over what they should do with Sadhu. Bowen argued that by proving food and cloth to keep

Sadhu warm, Japanese people offer drink, the porter carried Sadhu down to 500 feet to the hut,

they already did their responsibility. Furthermore, Bowen did not want to risk his life and life

time opportunity for Sadhu. Even though Stephen believed that was ethical to go beyond regular

responsibility to bring Sadhu back to the village but no one wanted to want to go beyond and risk

their life for Sadhu. Sadhu was left alone at 10,000 feet, no one know what happened to him.

Bowen and Stephen started to argue over if it was the right thing to do. Stephen believed

that each individual was willing to contribute when it is not against their own interest, but they

tended to pass the task to other if it became difficult that would require their own interest. But

Bowen defended that everyone already did their responsibility and it was not right to ask for

individual to risk their life for others good. They started to question about what should be the

limit for individuals responsibility in such situation. After some time after the incident, thinking

about what had happened during the journey, Bowen got the feeling that what he did was not

right and started to relate it to what happen in business nowadays. Bowen started go over

argument between individual ethic vs group ethic. To Bowen, what happen in Sadhus

circumstance was like in the business situation whether it was or was not ethical for individual to

go beyond his duty to satisfy for a group or organization and vise versus.

Discussion Questions

The article introduced many ethical principles. Three questions have been included below to

stimulate discussion of some of those principles.

1. At the middle of article, when thinking back about what happened during the journey,

McCoy obviously felt guilty for what he did. Is his action considered ethical or unethical?
2. Did Bowen McCoy make the right choice? If you were Bowen McCoy, what would you

do in his situation?
3. How far should we go to help the stranger?

Response to Discussion Questions


This section presents responses to the three discussion questions. Those questions involve

the following topics: the ethical argument of Bowen McCoy action, my action in the same

situation and the limit of individuals responsibility.

Ethical Argument Raised by the Article

I absolutely agree that McCoy feel guilty for his action, but I do not think it can be

considered misconduct or unethical for what he did. Ethical making decision in such situation is

very fragile and there is no right or wrong in such situation. Whether it is ethical or not, it will

totally depend on each persons perception. The Bowens situation is an extremely hard to take a

call since it was life risking situation where he and his team had high possibility of killing

themselves if carried Sadhu with them.

But it is definitely not moral to do so, by leaving Sadhu behind with very little chance of

surviving is absolutely not the right thing to do. In my opinion, I did not criticize Bowen for his

action, but I do believe that it is also not ethical since he had not done completely his

responsibility. Bowen could do more than just leaving Sadhu behind. He should try his best

before giving up on Sadhu. The cause of his action was most likely be influenced by the group

where almost no one wanted to take responsible for Sadhu. The individual behavior of Stephen

therefore was overshadowed by the groups behavior.

Your Decision in Bowens Situation

It is always said easier than done. No one actually know what exactly one should do until

it really happens. McCoy had made the decision for himself, and I absolutely believed that there

is no one that could possibly answer it right or wrong except himself. Since no one know what

will happen if Bowen changed his mind and take Sadhu as his responsibility to carry him back to

the village. It will be great if he can make it, but what happen if they both die.

If I were Bowen in this situation, I will try every way I can to save Sadhu if possible. I

am willing to satisfy mine the so called one life time experience to save Sadhu but not my life. It

simply means that everyone has their own limit of moral standard and individuals responsibility

toward stranger or the people you just met. There may be people out there that willing to risk

their life to save those they only met once or twice but not everyone can do the same. I will carry

Sadhu with me until the point that I believed there is no other choice but to leave him behind to

come back village myself and ask for help. My action may be considered unethical to other but it

was ethical action for me and those who care about me more than Sadhu. There is no absolute

right or wrong, so does ethics. One action can be ethical in one circumstance but unethical in


Individuals Responsibility toward Stranger

It is very tough to identify the drawing line of responsibility toward strange person. As a

human being, we should love and help each other as much as possible but is it ethical to satisfy

yourself for other. Even in business ethic, it will never tell you to satisfy your companys

advantage for others just because they are about to collapse. Some argued that we should each

sacrifice to some degree that all human has equal life. People with that perception tend to imply

that those who are rich and wealthy should have greater responsibility to those poor. But it does

not mean that the right people have to take the whole responsibility to make sure the poor has

equal life, there should be a limit of responsibility toward stranger.


Individuals responsibility toward stranger considered as humans responsibility toward

other human. Every human should be treated fairly with no discrimination. It is responsibility for

human being to treat other as the way you want to be treated. One should try his best to help

other in need, even in some case he or she should compromise himself or herself to certain

degree if possible to help other that in difficult situation like Sadhu. But if it is life risking

situation, there will be no responsibility obligation to other, your decision will only base on

yourself and your perception. There is no law or rule that require one go beyond his duty, even

risk his life for other.



McCoy, B. (1997) "The Parable of the Sadhu." Harvard Business Review. 1997 originally

published 1983. May-Jun: 75(3): 54-6, 58-9, and 62-4. Discussion 60.