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Doctors who blindly follow orders must be challenged

Truth Over Tyranny: Biblical wisdom for defeating the Technocrats.
These are my insights for defeating the Transhumanist Technocracy movement, based on the teachings of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory, on the weekly Bible portion.

Tens of thousands of people in the UK — because they were over 60 years of age, or had mental health issues, or had physical disabilities — were killed as part of an official government policy.  Ironically dubbed “NICE,” the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence system authorizes this euthanization under the title, “Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient (LCP).”

Euthanasia under the LCP protocol is typically executed without the informed consent of the patients or their caregivers.  This caused a national uproar.  And the UK abolished the LCP in 2014.  But the official practice continued, unabated, under a new name, “NICE Guideline 163” or NG163.

What is the purpose of these murders?  There’s an obvious monetary motivation: to free up hospital resources, and to decrease the financial strain on the national pension system and medical system.  Although some people justify the euthanasia under the guise of providing a so-called “good death” to the terminally ill, the chosen method of execution (midazolam and morphine) is tantamount to torture — causing the patient to slowly and terrifyingly suffocate to death — while being denied food and water; so an altruistic motivation is suspect, at the very least.

Who is doing the killing?  It is estimated that 5% of doctors are doing so out of empathy.  Another 5% are ideological eugenicists.  The vast majority — 90% of doctors — are simply following orders.

Let’s focus on the 90% who are simply following official orders.

Today, the world renown psychotherapist, Professor Dr. Mattias Desmet, has promoted the theory of “Mass Formation” to explain the self-destructive behavior of the masses.

Historically, the Hebrew Bible comes out very strongly against blindly following leadership.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains this in his commentary on Parashat Kedoshim called “Followership.”

He starts out by illustrating the two commands that direct “followership.” The first is interpersonal:

“There is a fascinating sequence of commands in the great ‘holiness code’ with which our parsha begins, that sheds light on the nature not just of leadership in Judaism but also of followership. Here is the command in context:

“‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove [or reason with] your neighbour frankly so you will not bear sin because of him. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.’ Lev. 19:17-18

“There are two completely different ways of understanding the italicised words. Maimonides brings them both as legally binding.[1] Nahmanides includes them both in his commentary to the Torah.[2]

“The first is to read the command in terms of interpersonal relations. If you believe some has done you harm, says the Torah, do not remain in a state of silent resentment. Do not give way to hate, do not bear a grudge, and do not take revenge. Instead, reprove him, reason with him, tell him what you believe he has done and how you feel it has harmed you. He may apologise and seek to make amends. Even if he does not, at least you have made your feelings known to him. That in itself is cathartic. It will help you to avoid nursing a grievance.”

The second command compels action:

“The second interpretation, though, sees the command in impersonal terms. It has nothing to do you being harmed. It refers to someone you see acting wrongly, committing a sin or a crime. You may not be the victim. You may be just an observer. The command tells us not to be content with passing a negative judgment on his behaviour (i.e. with “hating him in your heart”). You must get involved. You should remonstrate with him, pointing out in as gentle and constructive a way as you can, that what he is doing is against the law, civil or moral. If you stay silent and do nothing, you will become complicit in his guilt (i.e. ‘bear sin because of him’) because you saw him do wrong and you did nothing to protest.”

We must speak out against anyone taking an immoral stand — certainly our fellows, but even our revered teachers:

“This second interpretation is possible only because of Judaism’s fundamental principle that kol Yisrael arevin zeh ba-zeh, ‘All Jews are sureties [i.e. responsible] for one another.’ However, the Talmud makes a fascinating observation about the scope of the command:

“‘One of the Rabbis said to Raba: [The Torah says] hocheach tochiach, meaning ‘you shall reprove your neighbour repeatedly’ [because the verb is doubled, it implies you should reprove him more than once]. Might this mean hocheach, reprove him once, and tochiach, a second time? No, he replied, the word hocheach means, even a hundred times. Why then does it add the word tochiach? Had there been only a single verb I would have known that the law applies to a master reproving his disciple. How do we know that it applies even to a disciple reproving his master? From the phrase, hocheach tochiach, implying, under all circumstances.’ Bava Metzia 31a

“This is significant because it establishes a principle of critical followership. So far in these essays we have been looking at the role of the leader in Judaism. But what about that of the follower? On the face of it the duty of the follower is to follow, and that of the disciple to learn. After all, Judaism commands almost unlimited respect for teachers. ‘Let reverence for your teacher be as great as your reverence for heaven,’ said the Sages. Despite this the Talmud understands the Torah to be commanding us to remonstrate even with our teacher or leader should we see him or her doing something wrong.”

Civil Disobedience is required when given an immoral order. Certainly, Jews cannot follow orders to violate Jewish law. But people in general must not follow immoral orders. All people must be “critical followers:”

“Supposing a leader commands you to do something you know to be forbidden in Jewish law. Should you obey? The answer is a categorical ‘No’. The Talmud puts this in the form of a rhetorical question: ‘Faced with a choice between obeying the master [God] or the disciple [a human leader], whom should you obey?'[3] The answer is obvious. Obey God. Here in Jewish law is the logic of civil disobedience, the idea that we have a duty to disobey an immoral order.”

Social critics are necessary to challenge leaders — especially kings — and even God!

“The idea of critical followership gave rise in Judaism to the world’s first social critics, the Prophets, mandated by God to speak truth to power and to summon even Kings to the bar of justice and right conduct. That is what Samuel did to Saul, Elijah to Ahab and Isaiah to Hezekiah. None did so more effectively than the Prophet Nathan when, with immense skill, he got King David to appreciate the enormity of his sin in sleeping with another man’s wife. David immediately recognised his wrong and said chatati, ‘I have sinned.'[6]

“Exceptional though the Prophets of Israel were, even their achievement takes second place to one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of religion, namely that God Himself chooses as His most beloved disciples the very people who are willing to challenge heaven itself. Abraham says, ‘Shall the Judge of all the earth not do justice?’ Moses says, ‘Why have You done evil to this people?’ Jeremiah and Habakkuk challenge God on the apparent injustices of history. Job, who argues with God, is eventually vindicated by God, while his comforters, who defended God, are deemed by God to have been in the wrong. In short, God Himself chooses active, critical followers, rather than those who silently obey.”

Uncritical followership can lead to the corruption of power – and catastrophe:

“Uncritical followership and habits of silent obedience give rise to the corruptions of power, or sometimes simply to avoidable catastrophes. For example, a series of fatal accidents occurred between 1970 and 1999 to planes belonging to Korean Air. One in particular, Korean Air Flight 8509 in December 1999, led to a review that suggested that Korean culture, with its tendency toward autocratic leadership and deferential followership, may have been responsible for the first officer not warning the pilot that he was off-course.

“John F. Kennedy assembled one of the most talented group of advisors ever to serve an American President, yet in the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 committed one of the most foolish mistakes. Subsequently, one of the members of the group, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., attributed the error to the fact that the atmosphere within the group was so convivial that no one wanted to disturb it by pointing out the folly of the proposal.[7]”

“Groupthink and conformism are perennial dangers within any closely-knit group, as a series of famous experiments by Solomon Asch, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo and others have shown. … My favourite example is one given by James Surowiecki in The Wisdom of Crowds. He tells the story of how an American naturalist, William Beebe, came across a strange sight in the Guyana jungle. 

“‘A group of army ants was moving in a huge circle. The ants went round and round in the same circle for two days until most of them dropped dead. The reason is that when a group of army ants is separated from their colony, they obey a simple rule: follow the ant in front of you.[8]’

“The trouble is that if the ant in front of you is lost, so will you be.”

But great followership can give rise to great leadership:

“…we need dissenting voices, people who challenge the conventional wisdom, resist the fashionable consensus and disturb the intellectual peace. ‘Follow the person in front of you’ is as dangerous to huthmans as it is to army ants. To stand apart and be willing to question where the leader is going is the task of the critical follower. Great leadership happens when there is strong and independently-minded followership. Hence, when it comes to constructive criticism, a disciple may challenge a teacher and a Prophet reprimand a King.”

I would add this: you can bet that if we accused the vast majority of these NHS doctors of committing murder, they would reel in shock, and angrily proclaim their innocence. People entrenched in the “uncritical follower'” mindset must turn off their moral compass to blindly obey orders. They are “just doing their job.”

And so they allow evil to flourish.

Rabbis Sacks is teaching us that the Hebrew Bible — the foundation of morality for Western Civilization — is emphatically stating that is not acceptable: not for teachers; not for kings; and not for doctors.

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