Jason Torpy, an MBA candidate in our Creativity Class at The Ohio State University, has a way of cutting to the quick. In our attempt to get to know each other, he asked me a question that challenges me. (Our class deliberations are confidential. Jason has authorized this story telling.)

Don’t just ask the old late-night jaw-boner: “What would you die for?”

The real question, Jason teaches, is “What would you kill for?”

A veteran who has recently returned from Iraq, Jason is articulate about his perspective:

Basically, people can altruistically say all the great things they would die for. The more interesting question, especially in conversations with pacifists, is “What you would kill for?” And are there different rules if the killing is hand-to-hand, with weapons, with bombs, if you’ve been ordered, or if you’ve just helped those who are killing?

He continued: “Intermediate questions to ask – very real ones – are:

What are you currently allowing people to die for, or suffer for? Where does compassion rank on your priority list? When is it ok to look the other way – is it a matter of personal convenience, level of suffering, travel time, media visibility, type of animal?

Jason’s question transcends the Iraq conflict. It’s a daily, sometimes hourly, question that I ask myself as I motor through my day.

What would you kill for?