There are followers who write and tell me they read everything I write. In this day and age of Google snooping and Facebook censorship, etc. how can anybody know? Even I don’t get reply emails sometimes!
With that in mind, I’ll say again some of the things I’ve written in the past.
For example, I deplore doctors being present at executions. I know the argument: it needs an expert to pronounce life extinct. But doctors are supposed to save lives and heal, not be part of ritual judicial killing. It’s still killing and any society which resorts to that extreme measure has lost any claim to be civilized.
The strongest argument is simply that no justice system is perfect. Therefore capital punishment cannot be justified. It matters not how many people you think are guilty and how right you are, the act of killing just one innocent person is totally unacceptable to anyone steeped in values of humanity, understanding and society.
Yes, I know the argument for safety: that keeping a murderer off the streets is good for everyone else. But you can always keep them locked up, for goodness sake!
In the end it’s about nothing other than REVENGE. And revenge is one of the lowliest of all motives. It’s unknown among animals:
“Premeditation or mens rea, to give it a legal definition, is a substantial test in human criminal activity. Reasonable people do not commit calculating revenge crimes in full knowledge of the consequences of their actions. Only humans seem to commonly plan such premeditated attacks. This is either absent from wild animal behavior, or so rare, it is practically undetectable.” Simon Mustoe, Australian naturalist.
Another argument I enter a lot is that of euthanasia or “assisted dying” as it’s euphemistically called. Well, you could say murder is a kind of assisted dying, so I see no point in the phrase!
But I won’t go there today, except to say that it is no job of a doctor to assist people to die. It would be like a car mechanic who couldn’t fix your engine problem, assisting you to blow up the car with dynamite!sc
But what about doctor murderers and terrorists? It puzzles me greatly that they exist. Can you pack a stethoscope and a gun and still be considered a member of the sacred profession?
Not in my world.
Britain’s most prolific serial killer was Harold Shipman, who used his position as a medical doctor to kill some 250 people. That’s far more than your typical mad, violent serial killer! He got away with so much for so long because he wrote the death certificate in each case and was able to divert attention from what was going in.
The first and very publicly visible doctor-terrorist was Che Guevara. He became a 60s icon for many youngsters and there were portrait posters of him on many university walls. According to Wikipedia, he was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, writer, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist! That puts revolutionary ahead of being a doctor, which I suppose is right.
Guevara was not a very good doctor. He suffered from asthma and yet smoked a lot!
One is reminded of the old saw: that if you are not a socialist when you are young, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative when you are older, you have no sense!
Che Guevara did not live long enough to change his tune from one position to another. He was caught and executed in 1965. Hence he remains a romantic and tragically doomed figure, which makes for great reading.
Apparently Guevara once said: “The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” It’s difficult to see how killing and love go together, though I suppose one of you will write to tell me that if your spouse and kids were threatened, you wouldn’t hesitate to kill.
That’s what soldiering is all about, isn’t it? Killing for love? You just have to convince the kids that you are on the side of right (not the side of God, because everyone claims that; ”Gott mit uns” etc.)
In any case, I would argue that killing to protect your family and loved ones is a world apart from slaughtering strangers you have never met. Thing is, many of your victims may also, in turn, be loving fathers, mothers and sons! There is no “right” to terrorism, whereas most nations recognize the right to self-defense.
It’s harder to romanticize the killings of al-Qaeda and Isis on the grounds of revolution. What started me off on this whole line of thought was reading of the long-range killing by drone strike of Ayman al-Zawahiri (July 31, 2022). He was an Egyptian-born terrorist, and physician who served as the second emir of al-Qaeda from June 16, 2011, until his death. Al-Zawahiri graduated from Cairo University with a degree in medicine and a master’s degree in surgery and was a surgeon by profession.
There is certainly a lot of blood on his hands, one way or another!
Anyway, let’s shift gear to something nicer. Still about a doctor in the wrong calling…
One of The Great Physicians Of All Time
No, not Hippocrates! You can Google him and find mountains of mis-quotes and mistakes. For example, Hippocrates just isn’t real. I’m not kidding! The writings that have come down to us, supposedly by him, are just a collection from various authors, attributed to Hippocrates.
Instead, I’m going to tell a story which—again—I have told before.
In my family there was always a tradition that when I was 4 years old, some busybodying neighbor asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. They were expecting something like a train driver, I think.
I shocked everybody by saying “I want to be the King!” That’s the right attitude, of course but unfortunately, the job was taken (by the late Queen Elizabeth’s father, George VI, of course).
Well, I became a doctor and have never regretted my calling.
But fast forward to 2001 and I was lecturing at the Open International University for Complementary Medicine, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, when the then-Chancellor, Anton Jayasuriya, told me about an amazing king called Buddhadasa, who ruled Sri Lanka from 340-368 AD.
He was a good king, apparently, and a very gifted physician. He carried a surgical kit with him everywhere he went and was not shy to use it, on humans and on animals. If he saw sickness and suffering, he would ask for his palanquin to be stopped and go over to help.
Now this was in an age, and a part of the world, where to just touch the king could get you beheaded, so this showed an amazing degree of commitment and compassion. His operations were quite successful, on the whole.
The wonderful historical document, the Mahavamsa, describes Buddhadasa as a “Mind of virtue and an ocean of gems”. That would make a beautiful epitaph!
But that’s not why I am writing about him here—he famously used a phrase: If you can’t be the King, be a healer. Those words would be for me!
Love that guy…
To your good health,
Prof. Keith Scott-Mumby
The Official Alternative Doctor