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COVID-19 Postmortem: Mandates and Morals

This issue specifically was arguably the most hotly contested facet of all the topics I intend to cover in this series. So much so in fact I was tempted to avoid the issue altogether. Doing so would do nothing but continue a separate problem in modern society however, so pen my thoughts I shall. I will state however since all details of this topic as a whole are hotly contested I will be less frequent with sources and let this stand more as a opinion piece instead of a report.

When a group of people agree to be bound by a set of statutes, they have formed a society. A society can take many forms. From as basic as a small tribe living with unspoken codes for conduct, to the complexities of the sprawling regulatory jungle of London. Regardless of the details that form the society, it can be distilled down to the simple fact that in a society people bind themselves to a set of rules for the benefit of all.

Before we explore the COVID vaccine mandates and how they have impacted society I would first like to direct the attention of the reader to medical ethics. Namely, the Hippocratic Oath. It is arguably one of the most important articles ever penned, and though it was written millennia ago it has yet to lose its relevancy. As an interesting tangent, doing my due diligence for this writing I decided to reread both the Original Hippocratic Oath, as well as the Modern Hippocratic Oath. It was in this reading I noticed a fascinating discrepancy. First read the Original (bold emphasis mine):

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius the surgeon, likewise Hygeia and Panacea, and call all the gods and goddesses to witness, that I will observe and keep this underwritten oath, to the utmost of my power and judgment.
I will reverence my master who taught me the art. Equally with my parents, will I allow him things necessary for his support, and will consider his sons as brothers. I will teach them my art without reward or agreement; and I will impart all my acquirement, instructions, and whatever I know, to my master's children, as to my own; and likewise to all my pupils, who shall bind and tie themselves by a professional oath, but to none else.
With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.
Nor shall any man's entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.
Further, I will comport myself and use my knowledge in a godly manner.
I will not cut for the stone, but will commit that affair entirely to the surgeons.
Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient; and I will willingly refrain from doing any injury or wrong from falsehood, and (in an especial manner) from acts of an amorous nature, whatever may be the rank of those who it may be my duty to cure, whether mistress or servant, bond or free.
Whatever, in the course of my practice, I may see or hear (even when not invited), whatever I may happen to obtain knowledge of, if it be not proper to repeat it, I will keep sacred and secret within my own breast.
If I faithfully observe this oath, may I thrive and prosper in my fortune and profession, and live in the estimation of posterity; or on breach thereof, may the reverse be my fate!

As you can see, it is a short document yet profound in impact even for being a relic of a culture ages past. You can clearly see in the jargon a doctor swearing by this oath that should he attempt to harm any of his patients deliberately that the gods may punish him eternally for it. With that in mind, now read the Modern Hippocratic Oath (bold emphasis mine):

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: 
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow. 
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism. 
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug. 
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery. 
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. 
Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. 
Above all, I must not play at God. 
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick. 
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure. 
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. 
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. 
May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Did you spot the difference? In the Original document, doing any harm is strictly prohibited. In the Modern one there is no such clause, only instead a vague reference to the great moral responsibility of taking a life. While I could certainly speculate why this clause was dropped from the Modern Oath, the important fact as it relates to our current discussion is the aforementioned.

Most people in the current theatre of debate argue that mandatory medical procedures are illegal and cite a doctor promising to “do no harm”. This clause is heavily implied in the Original Oath, but noticeably absent from its modern counterpart. What is even more curious about this is that, assuming modern doctors mostly take the Modern Oath, modern doctors are not bound by even a semblance of this clause. It simply doesn’t exist. It also invalidated that specific argument against mandatory medical operations. If not a promise to do no harm, what can we use to argue against such measures? I’ve narrowed that down into two distinct categories: societal and moral.

First off, Societal. During the COVID responses of the last two years I noticed a few common denominators across governments and peoples. The biggest of these was ostracizing of uninjected individuals as opposed to injected. During the beginning of when some major companies issued their treatments there was a major push by both government a private advertisement to voluntarily get injected. According to their own data at the time they alleged that over half of the American population had been injected, with Europe and Asia having similar numbers with slight variance. Without speculation as to why, these number was seen as lackluster by many governments. What began after this period was a shift in marketing directed at people yet to get injected. Major branches of governments and politicians alike began to cover what I can only assume they saw as their failure by blaming and gaslighting the holdouts. The goalposts (second link) for injections were changed repeatedly, as well as the “science”, so much so the word itself now is subjectively political in many western nations. Now here’s where the biggest schism of this debate emerges. As this stigmatism and gaslighting continued, so with it the public ridicule of the opposite side. Even those with a basic understanding of psychology know that usually the more you try to externally force someone to do something, be it for their good or not, the harder they will resist it. Enter mandates, where you are using the force of government itself upon people who are unsure or opposed to something. In the case of COVID specifically I can’t recall a time in human history such lengths have been gone to in order to coerce complicity. People were fired from their jobs, denied travel domestic and international, and in some cases not even allowed to leave their own homes.

These are only a few examples, but even the first is enough. Threatening anyone with outright starvation and homelessness for not complying will not result in dissent being quelled. In fact as demonstrated in physiology the opposite effect happens: a few will give in, and the rest that were unsure are now decidedly against. This is precisely what happened with COVID injections and in that respect the powers at be in many western nations failed miserably. Not only did they solidify the opinions of the very people they wanted to convince, but they also created large scale social instability, mass distrust of government, and more. As put quite well by Alfred Henry Lewis: “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” In this regard alone the mandates have failed. They did almost nothing they intended and created so many problems in virtually every nation to implement them there really isn’t even much to debate.

Then we come to the tricky aspect of this debate: the morality of mandates. As I prefaced with the Hippocratic Oath, the common argument to “do no harm” is something a doctor in modern society is not bound by to begin with. With that aside, let’s look more at this from the sub perspectives of Moral and Utilitarian Ethics. From the viewpoint of utilitarian ethics we actually have a strong case for mandates. In this form of ethics, something is determined to be right or wrong based on the outcome. You judge the product not the factors that created it. In this case and for the time being assuming injections worked (which I will cover in a future writing) then the outcome is mandates is readily justified. People may not want to be injected, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it so long as the end result is one uniform society free of COVID. Of course this line of ethics gets dangerous pretty quickly. It is so focused on the end that virtually any means can be justified.

That brings us to our second form of ethics and the final point to cover related to them: Moral Ethics. Moral Ethics are interesting because contrary to Virtue and Utilitarian Ethics the “moral” weight we judge by is a relative to our own viewpoint. For example, a Muslim might use the Quran as their moral lodestone, while a Christian may opt for the Bible. In most western nations (aptly Christendom) the latter is the basis of their legal and ethical frameworks so I will utilize briefly here. The most bedrock statement I can extract with universality to all religions from the moral framework of the west and Bible is as follows: Treat others as you wish to be treated. Aside from being a near quote the statement itself is one I would have a hard time for any human to argue over. Using that as our baseline, COVID mandates fail to be moral. I doubt I need to explain to my astute reader how forming a two cast system and firing people from jobs over a mandate fits this.

To conclude, the question of mandatory regulations has been and will continue to be a fight between those who feel the government knows best and those who believe it is the enemy. While I am neutral on this argument, the mandates as applied for COVID were at best a gross failure, and at worse the single biggest series of human rights violations ever committed across the world. It is all based on how you look at it using your own worldview and set of moral ethics. As a final closing note I must admit I did not expect to be led down so many information based rabbit holes while researching this. The Hippocratic Oath especially I may one day soon come back to since I before this post wasn’t even aware there was a modern version. Regardless of your viewpoint I do hope if nothing else this reading encourages you to try new solutions to problems, to place yourself in the shoes of those you debate, and to research objectively and accept nothing as fact without proof.