Occasionally, when I need to irritate my intestines, I will read the odd article in something called The Huffington Post. This is a thing which appears only on the internet and is available at no cost in that form. Aside from good whiskey, nothing which will eventually sicken a person should require paying for it, I think.
It is a journal with a decidedly “progressive” outlook on issues. Loosely defined one is progressive when one believes that as long as the government is paying for it, things are just fine, unless “it” includes such things as national defense or the protection of the nation’s borders.
On a personal level, one is “progressive” when one believes that one may not kill trees, baby seals or whales, endanger “species” or increase the amount of carbon in the air by smoking or driving any kind of vehicle but a small and expensive European one. One may, on the other hand kill the weak, the terminally ill or those not yet born, provided one has a good enough reason for choosing to do so. Arriving at that decision is achieved by the proper application of ethical principles.
Currently,the state of ethical thinking regarding killing humans who have not been born is decidedly in favor of doing so for any reason one may have, or none at all; which for many is an entirely good reason. One may call it “Because”. There is a certain level of flux regarding the ethics of killing the weak, infirm and terminally ill inclining toward the economics of the matter and leaning away from, shall we say, an ethics of compassion. Thinking along these lines ethicists argue, essentially, that less sick people draining our pockets and our energies means more money and time to enjoy ourselves, or go about making the world a better place for healthy people.
Progressive people are not religious people, they will tell you, but they sometimes confess something very much like a belief in God, or some kind of guiding principle to which they have reference when in doubt about something; which is very rare. For many there is no thought of living after life ends. This is all there is and thus there is, among progressives, an intense desire to make it the best place possible, to make a heaven of earth if you will. That’s, in a word, progress.
Further, a truly “progressive” person is endowed with superior intelligence such that they may tell you when you are wrong in your beliefs and positions, intolerant of others and should either be quiet or be shut up, somewhere, for your own good and the good of the rest of us.
They do not believe in morals. They have replaced morals and morality and moral behavior with ethics. Ethics are better than morals because…well because ethics are fair for everyone and morals are simply not.
Ethical behavior is situational, designed, in the end, for the happiness of individuals, the improvement of everyone’s lot and the comfort of societies. Moral behavior is based on some un-voted for law handed down by some God, somewhere. It isn’t tolerant, human or rational. Ethics are, if anything, rational, progressively rational. By that I mean that popularly, ethics or “ethical practices” are employed in so ordering one’s life and society as to achieve the greatest comfort of body and soul with the least possible effort of will or difficulty of emotion; they are ordered to the eradication of guilt and any sense of wrong, the unnecessary baggage of morality; they are designed to bring about the :best of all possible worlds”, a heaven on earth, if you will. One need only know that something is ethically permissible, and, no matter what that may be, one may happily engage in it.
Happiness is defined in part as a freedom from guilt, and ethics, or “ethical behavior” is the vehicle which allows a progressive thinking person to drive away from guilt of any sort because, well, the end in ethics does justify the means. Read on.
Ethical and progressive thinkers, and progressive people in general maintain the superiority of ethics over morals because they insist that ethics contra morals require thought and decision making tools which separate man from the lower animals, if one may be allowed to think that way for purely speculative purposes, since it is progressive to believe that all life is equally precious. Morals require only obedience, and, perhaps, fear of the consequences which is, again, a less than rational reaction to life if one is a complete and well ordered person.
Progressive people believe that the highest degree of ethical behavior consists in allowing others to make rational choices about their own lives, or the government to make those choices for them based on fairness and a rational understanding of what is the greatest good, as in the current shaking out of matters involved with the allocation of resources for health care. Which, rather long windedly, leads me to the point of all of this:
Recently, the HuffPo contained an article written by someone called an ethicist. This article was about the ethical imperative to ration health care; crudely put, to pull the tube, cut the cord and save a few bucks when Uncle Yaya can’t breath on his own. The author, an ethicist, writes about a case making its way through the New jersey courts regarding a man named Betancourt who entered a PVS, that’s Permanent Vegetative State, after surgery. Doctors wanted to end his treatment and let him die, so they thought, and his family did not. While they were dickering, he died. Nevertheless, they still dicker. Lawyers need to eat, too.
Such cases are a futility, and a waste of resources the author notes; resources which would be put to better use developing cures for diseases, treating patients with better chances for recovery, building a better mousetrap etc. etc. etc.
The nice author is very practical in making the case for the ethical elimination of cost and its application to more useful purposes by writing, and practical solutions to problems seem to be the watchword; practical, utilitarian solutions. With startling frankness he concludes:
“Let us make no mistake about what this would mean: It would mean declaring that the lives of PVS patients are worth less than those of others. Rather than shying away from this outcome, progressive bioethicists should have the courage to acknowledge and to embrace this proposition. Of course, I do not believe that we should take life-and-death matters lightly. I relish my life as much as the next person. In an ideal world, Ruben Betancourt never would have become ill in the first place. The good news is that, in our lifetimes, we may be able to vastly expand human life expectancies. And someday in the future, although possibly too late for anybody reading this column, we may be able to breed acephalic “shell” bodies into which to transplant human brains, or we may reprogram the ends of telomeres, or we may master some other transhumanist technology that permanently forestalls natural death and allows for eternal life right here on earth. Alas, immortality remains a distant prospect. In the interim, we have no choice but to allocate scarce healthcare dollars in such a way that some lives will be preserved at the expense of others.” (Emphases added)
I do especially like the gentleman’s next to last sentence lamenting the distant prospect of eternal life for us all, but by that sad fact justifying the ethical nature of keeping alive the worthy and killing the unworthy. There is ethical and progressive utilitarian compassion at work; do not waste anything, even compassion, save it for those who will benefit by it. Compare that with, oh, say, the total lack of compassion in Nazi death camps or Soviet gulags; which were very unethical, and irrationally un-beneficial to say the least.
There is this wonderful thing about progressive thinking. It is so cheerfully optimistic, so ordered to the end of the rainbow. Despite the unappealing nature of choosing who will live and who won’t, we console ourselves with the knowledge that we are embarked on a wonderful project, achieving eternal life right here on earth. Choice, what a beautiful word it is.
We may confidently expect that some bright day life will never end if we are progressives. There will be a series of “little sleeps” when our brains are lifted with care from our useless bodies and placed with precision in the, what was it?, the acephalic “shell” body, which is no doubt developed from some cloned embryo in a lab especially engineered to our specifications, good hair, bright teeth, the right skin tone, firm muscles. Then, after a day’s rest we go out to continue living forever inside an endless succession of specially made brainless shells which I think should be named a “Betancourt” in honor of the fellow whose unfortunate premature end pointed us all on the right path.