Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Senseless Destruction??? by Peter Reum

The thought has occurred to me the last 25 years that perhaps as a species, humankind has a closer resemblance to lemmings than we want to admit. Granted that the news as reported in this world seems to focus upon the most negative types of human behavior, such as war, environmental destruction and debasement, wanton violence in civilian life, allowing others to starve or be taken ill by  water that is teeming with parasites and disease causing microbes, and so many more issues than can be listed here. Revolution in seed development has resulted in more food  being harvested than at any time in human  history. Holy books, like the Bible, Koran, and Vedic Scriptures are taken literally when such scriptures were written to serve  a given population of believers who lived from 200 years ago-The Book of Mormon to nearly  5000 years ago-The Torah and some Hindu sacred texts.

Why do we attach such significance to these scriptures on a literal (sometimes called "fundamentalist") basis? I would submit that the uncertainty of agricultural yields brought a need for the attribution of powers that transcend  day by day human existence being placed with beings of a powerful and unpredictable relationship to humans to give meaning to the various calamities that beset human beings and are unexpected.

That being said, it is evident that as a species, we also have the capacity for self-reflection that makes our ability to put aside our personal opinions and allow other human beings to have their own opinions, even if their insights are somewhat primitive. When things get out beyond a reasonable level,  researchers have to consider that the conclusion, however the results as yielded appear to be against conventional wisdom.

The conflict between people who value tradition versus innovation often becomes the main block between conservatives and progressives. For people who are scared by the prospect of change, fear of change often becomes an unstated yet common emotion that brings uncertainty to the various change related decisions being considered. If fear of change is a commonality in most decisions by conservatives, it would be natural that they want only conservative positions to have a long term favorable outcome.

When we consider the more progressive aspects of a given decision, the rationale given for progressive changes are often attributed to people left without services for the given problem. This leads to the emotional campaign for services or opportunities that often defines the new population to be served. Life problems that this sort of campaign addresses are often brought to the attention of progressives. The problem being targeted may be clogging a given service system, or that the number of people being eligible for the new service is vastly underfunded despite the estimates that were made.

The simpler explanation is that cost-effectiveness is often confused with cost-effenciency. As an example, there might be a new medication approved that seems to help life-threatened patients to  stay alive for a few more years beyond the common length of the illness. In this example, the expensive treatment modality may be cost-effective because of the extra few years such intervention offers to terminally ill patients. Conversely, certain medical condition payers may conclude that the proposed treatment modality for the terminal patient is not cost efficient due to the level of additional medical services needed that accompany the new treatment modality.

The decisions made can be helpful for a given patient, but detrimental to a health services provider's budgetary bottom line. The most common method of resolving such dilemmas has been to establish a process by which a given patient's treatment plan is reviewed blindly by a board of professionals who decide how a patient will be treated. As an example, the organization that is fulfilling this function in Montana is called Mountain Pacific Quality Health. The fear of so called "death committees" is unreal with respect to them having the sole responsibility of deciding who lives and who dies. The use of extraordinary medical interventions to save lives is often the role of the primary physician who will decide what interventions are possible or realistic

Another role in society that creates problems is whether the person who murders one or many innocent community members is fit for trial by his or her peers. In a number of countries around the world, nations have decided by citizen feedback or referendums to eliminate the death penalty as a sentence for citizens convicted of murder. In other nations, or in the USA, some jurisdictions have the belief that the death penalty is a necessary option in the judicial process for what might be termed "aggravated circumstances." In the USA, some states routinely consider the death penalty as an option for punishment. Perhaps the most active state allowing capital punishment is Texas. Oklahoma is another state that routinely reviews whether the circumstances of aggravated murder would justify capital punishment.

The precedent for decisions about whether the death penalty is appropriate due to aggravated circumstances is based in  the details of the murders committed and whether there were especially egregious methods that are present  that make the killings especially heinous. A common example is the Nuremberg trial of people who implemented the orders of Nazis
responsible for the coordination of the mass murders of Jews, people with disabilities, gay and lesbian persons, and so forth.

The issues  regarding decisions about life and death are particularly emotional in the medical treatment of newborns and children. Around the world, the innocence of young girls and boys is weighed against the probability of survival. Countries with elevated levels of childhood death in comparison to their state of the art of medical practices are especially reviled for their per capita rate of childhood deaths if they are otherwise technologically advanced.  In some especially cruel nations, use of violence against dissenting citizens is considered to be a routine method for eliminating "those who threaten the state." Historically, this form of elimination of those who threaten the state has been employed in countries labeled Communist, dictatorships, and totalitarianism.

The use of extraordinary medical interventions has been especially  controversial as the state of the art in keeping seriously injured patients alive has become more improved. Infants born to mothers who are arguably being kept alive without a probability of surviving solely for the purpose of saving the baby's life are ahe n example of heroic intervention that may result in the child being orphaned or raised by foster parents. The growing consensus of the foster care and/or child adoption agencies is that the death of the mother is not a sufficient reason in most developed nations for allowing a baby to die.

The use of methods of interviewing suspects in a murder case needs to be examined as a potential example  of how a given member of a minority group could be victimized by authorities through mistaken identity and jailed unfairly for many years.
It is quite an unfair disposal of a murder suspect's constitutional rights to a jury of his or her peers, with an assumption of guilt regardless of mitigating factors. The attending consequences of such a mistake are profound. Once again, the possibility of a minority group member being prisoned wrongfully builds mistrust in the judicial system among minority groups.

As can be seen in the examples cited, the building of trust between conservatives and progressives  is perhaps the most important challenge facing our country's democratic form of government.  If the distrust between those who believe that solving our country's imperfections and those who believe in the retention of our country's democratic government in it's current form without change, our dilemma as a nation divided will remain, with both groups blaming each other for the persistent dysfunction of our nation. This cannot continue to happen. Consensus building is desperately needed, with support coming from the conservatives and progressives for meaningful change.

Copyright 2018 by Peter Reum--All Rights Reserved