Archive for ethics

Medical Ideal: Do No Harm

Posted in culture, history, humanity, life, medical, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on September 15, 2009 by chouck017894

Ethics, morals and compassion were never close companions to the G. W. Bush administration in spite of their claims of religious guidance.  And like the bad apple that infects the whole barrel of apples, the aura of calloused disregard for anyone outside their clique spilled even into the medical branch of the armed service.  After the 9/11 attack upon U.S. soil in 2001 many international norms established by members of the Geneva Convention, of which the United States was/is a member, would be disregarded and violated by the Bush administration.

 Of the numerous crimes sanctioned by the Bush group, the authorization of torture of prisoners was possibly one of the most reprehensible.  An example of the administration’s disregard for the Geneva Convention agreements was made clear in December of 2002, for it was at that time that Donald Rumsfeld issued a directive that allowed interrogators to withhold medical care in non-emergency situations.  In other words, enemy soldiers with injuries, including gunshot wounds, were to be denied medical treatment as a means to make them reveal information.  The directive did not stand very long, but even after being revoked the practice was established and continued.

 But around April of 2003 Rumsfeld then approved the provision that doctors had to certify any prisoners held for interrogation as being “medically and operationally” suitable for torture, and the doctors had to be present for the torture sessions.  This medical involvement with the torture strategy of the administration was in direct opposition to the Hippocratic oath and to the World Medical Association’s directive that doctors could not assist in cruelty or torture of any kind.  Indeed, doctors are held duty-bound to report any abuses they might witness.  Unfortunately, too few uniformed physicians were warrior enough to stand up in defense of their Hippocratic principles.

Then in June 2005 a memo was excreted out of the Pentagon that cunningly sought to skirt official forbiddance of a doctor’s involvement.  The memo asserted that doctors were allowed to participate in torture and share medical records with interrogators as long as the detainee being interrogated was not officially their patient!

 There were a few honorable military physicians and medics who called for ethical reviews, but the Pentagon consistently overruled them.  There followed a clampdown on medical ethics by the Pentagon which altered the way doctors were screened for service, with only those favorable to the torture program being deployed to locations where “high value al Qaeda” detainees were held.

 To the shame of the American Medical Association, it was not until November 2006 that it finally issued a statement avowing that doctors cannot participate in torture-inflicted interrogation.  Even then there were four AMA military delegates who objected and sought to obstruct such high-principled medical ethics.  Thankfully there are still ethical doctors who have petitioned AMA leaders to endorse an independent investigation of their colleagues’ participation in detainee abuses.

To date they have been voted down four times.

Advertisements

Natural Equality

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, history, humanity, life, Pantheism, random, religion with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by chouck017894

Religious pretentiousness has the self-delusional habit of refusing to recognize that humankind is but one species of mammal.  The eagerness to disassociate themselves from our distant relatives has inspired apprehensive men to invent convoluted notions of superiority and then practice that misconception as a religious truth. 

In the practice of organized religions the natural equality of all life is categorically denied—even though it is an equality that is easily proved by the chromosomal elements that all life forms share in common.  And herein is exposed a vital clue in solving the reason for the conflicts and bloody failures of organized religions—especially the western versions of “holy” truth.

Mammals vie for territory: it is the means of self-survival and species continuation.  And that territorial drive is reflected in the human clustering habit practiced as religion which, by extension, accounts for their attempts to impose themselves upon other through proselytizing.  Notions of spiritual exclusiveness are in direct opposition to experiencing life in concert with reason; that is to say, mutual respect.  Instead, all of man’s organized religions choose to concentrate on differences and magnifying them into gross distortions that continually attack and weaken the quality of man’s higher potential.

There have been great minds in the past, however, that have championed a deeper, more bonding understanding of man’s potential.  Unfortunately, wisdom is seen as a threat to a large segment of our species and so they are easily distracted and stampeded by the braying of fools that tell them they have elite status elsewhere.

The insolence and contempt for others that is often practiced today as religious “truth” has much in common with a school of philosophers known as Cynics founded by a  pupil of  Socrates named Antisthenes (144-375?  BCE).  The general attitude of the Cynics was to view everything in the external material world about them with contempt.  The nobler Stoic philosphy developed out of this in Athens around 300 BCE, and was introduced into Rome around 100 BCE by the Stoic philosopher Panaetius of Rhodes.  Panaetius had considerable influence on a literary group in Rome, and through them influenced Roman thought, especially regarding moral duties which served as basis for Cicero’s De Officiis.

Stoicism’s most distinctive aspect was in the attribute that we may evaluate as cosmopolitanism—the  sophisticated understanding that all men are manifestations of one universal spirit.  In that understanding the Stoics stressed living in brotherly love and readily helping one another.  Wealth and rank were recognized by the Stoics as purely external and transient, and therefore such things were regarded as virtually meaningless in social relationships.  Thus stressed was the recognition of the natural equality of all human beings—a wisdom that is sorely lacking in the three militantly organized religions that developed to distort the consciousness of the western world.

Stoicism prevailed widely in the classic Roman world, with metaphysics and pantheistic materialism being part of its ethics.  Material matter was regarded as passive (subject to man’s management) and was distinguished from the cosmic, animating principle that is active as life.  That sustaining energy-link out of that life principle was understood as constituting what religions refer to as ones soul.  The ideal followed by the Stoics was that man’s superiority does not lie in external objects, but exists in the state of ones soul.  Thus living in accordance with reason was expressed in the Stoic’s four cardinal virtues of–wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance.  This  reasonable approach honored in Stoic philosophy played a major role in Roman jurisprudence.

It is a historical fact, therefore, that well before the advent of Christianity, Stoicism accepted life’s unity (or natural equality) and believed in the brotherhood of mana tenet often praised in Christian adherence but haphazardly practiced. 

 That means that unlike Judaism, Christianity or Islam, the Stoics never pretended to be the especial darlings of the creative power.  Untroubled with rationality, Judaism, Christianity and Islam nonchalantly trampled underfoot any genuine thought to Natural Equality.

Urban-Bred Christianity

Posted in Bible, Christianity, culture, enlightenment, humanity, life, meaning of life, naturalism, nature, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , on June 16, 2009 by chouck017894

Unlike Judaism and Islam in the western world, the spiritual perception that is Christianity had its inception, emphasis, message and character in the urban centers of the Roman Empire.  Economic and cultural attractions of city life, especially Rome, thus made a deep and lasting influence on the developing movement, which undoubtedly accounts for Christianity being the most unnatural religion in the world.

The faithful will, of course, protest this, but grant some charity to rational thought.  It is historic fact that for around 1500 years after the advent of what became the Christian theory of spiritual meaning, the prime and most steadfast opposition to it came from the nature  religions of the peasantry.  The practice of walling oneself into a limited artificial space to attain an illusion of oneness with the out-of-this-world Creator seemed demonstratively contrary to the Creator’s  expressions to those who were accustomed to working with nature.  Surrounded with the awesome atmosphere of nature, resplendent with untainted air, sky, clouds, stars, mountains, seas, trees, flowers and astonishing diversity of life, there was a natural sense of oneness with all these things.  There was no need for droning sermons by ego-centered practitioners of an improvable theory: in the walled-in Christian atomosphere faith became not what one felt and experienced but was only what one attempted to will into feeling.

More than any other faith system, the Christian approach to spiritual meaning has been that nature is a force that is to be dominated and any sense of oneness with all else in nature has been looked upon as causing man to in someway lose mastery.  This is one of Christian religion’s many half truths.   Nature, as enticing as it is, is not really the face of immorality even though below the aesthetic surfaces everything pursues its existence only at the expense of something else—a system of predators and prey apparently instituted by intelligent design.  And this everything-lives-at-the-expense-of-something-else playbill of nature happens to be the framework and general idea behind the entire Old Testament and which glaringly confirms that the evil and deceptions of  man far exceed the most vicious of nature’s predators.  It is this nature of  man that must be overcome and dominated by man, not the indiscriminate environment that is merely the bearing principle of matter life.

Ethics and morality are, after all, concepts of man, not nature.  This, of course, is held up in western religions–especially Christianity–as evidence of man’s superiority, and so all of man’s artificial constructs are claimed to more  closely reflect the perceived supernatural essence that is thought of as god.  This at least extends the hope of life beyond life as opposed to the nature religions that numbed the spirit with resignation that as part of nature man is held in a system that is indifferent to the concept of good and evil.

On the other hand, sealing believers away in orderly, artificial enclosures with light filtered through colored glass, stocked with altars and incense and secluded away from the open sky and earthy scents is not the best way to transend  personal nature.  Such man-created objects only gratify the apprehensive ego.  Ultimatelly the only true shrine to life is within ourselves.

Biblical Crimes

Posted in Bible, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2009 by chouck017894

For thousands of years the Bible has been promoted as the ultimate in moral guidance. But anyone possessed with genuine respect for moral conduct often staggers away in bewilderment.

Indeed, the opening chapters of Genesis kicks things off with a highly questionable take on common ethics. Adam and Eve are apparently fashioned for fun and games for they are placed naked in a decievingly paradisical setting in which two trees hold center stage–two trees that they are forbidden to use as a source of food. The godly set up is a game of entrapment. When the inevitable happens and they eat of the tree, God feins outrage that they gave in to temptation and declares death to be their punishment–not just Adam and Eve, but all life forms! The divine rules of the game do not take into account that if the couple had no experience with life how could they comprehend the threat of death?

Kicked out of Paradise, Adam and Eve produce two sons. One, Cain, is an agriculturalist and the other, Abel, is a sheepherder. For all the blessings that God bestowed, He expected material offerings to be brought to him by Adam’s sons. Abel dutifully slit a sheep’s throat and God found it pleasing, but Cain’s gift so laborously tended from the soil was scorned.

Cain, not surprisingly, smarted at the discrimination and in frenzy at holy prejudice killed his brother. There were no laws established in Paradise so this act cannot technically be called murder or even manslaughter. The “justice” meted out to Cain by the Omniscient One was banishment from Cain’s native land and a command that he not till the ground any more. It was evolutionary for Cain one might say, for he was wonderfully successful after that. We are not supposed to ask; if God was all-powerful, why didn’t he simply resurrect Abel and give instruction on moral beahavior?

The same loose concept of moral conduct continues throughout the “Good Book” with material goodies being awarded by God to morally deficient persons. Aggression is highly praised in the divine tales, and war crimes regarded as acceptable–if carried out for God’s security. Examples: under Moses’ generalship the Israelites killed all the Midianite men, their kings and the prophet Balaam; Joshua loved holocaustic violence in which even thousands of noncombatant women, children and aged were slaughtered; deceitful David exterminated men, women and children in various stories, even sawing them and hacking them to pieces. He was also partial to penis trophies.

Other bibilcal characters are admired for homicide: the “prophet” Elijah, for example, killed 450 priests of Baal to “justify” Jehovah; the “prophet” Elisha sent out two bears to kill 48 children who had mocked his bald head; Esther is praised for scheming the murders of Persians; Jezebel admired for trumping up false charges against a father and his two sons so they would be slain. Etc, etc, etc…

Sexual escapades and misconduct, as long as they are strictly heterosexual, are sniffed over. Lot and his daughters merit no chastising for incest; the maltreatment of Sarah by Abraham benefitted Abraham; Isaac followed his father’s footsteps and profitted by passing his wife off as his sister to the king; deceitful David indulged in adultery and had the woman’s husband set up for assassination; Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, too young to give legal consent was defiled by her half-brother; etc. etc. etc.

Nowhere throughout these “holy” stories is it ever told how a seeker may achieve a personal state of grace. Maybe because that requires a high respect for true ethics and morality.