It goes without saying that society evolves a lot during a lifetime, but some changes are more worrisome than others. It also seems that the change is out of control. What concerns me about what’s happening now is that there are no norms. Anything that smells of norms are seen as negative. It’s something we have to weed out.
The last of a long line of cases that has highlighted this is in Norway is the reservation clause. This is a practice in several professions where you can decide to pass a particular job on to someone else. It adds the important ethics in a society. I can see it being applicable for police and firefighters, but it is mostly being debated as a right a few doctors have used, mainly to let another doctor refer women for abortion. The patient will still get the abortion, so they still get the service they are entitled to.
I remember hearing about a doctor a while ago that was reprimanded after giving blood transfusion to a pregnant woman. She was a member of Jehovas Witnesses. The doctor had concerns about the baby, but his only concern was supposed to be the law. There are many hard cases doctors have to deal with.
As a society we are talking about the rights we have as citizens, but nobody is talking about the fact that we are forcing doctors to accept things that contradict with the medical oath. The way society evolves, it is not inconceivable that euthanasia will be allowed and even required in Norway. When that happens and If it is accepted that health professionals do not under any circumstances have the option of refusing, it will not be possible to refuse to kill people either. If it is permissible, or required to provide this service, morality and conscience will be irrelevant.
This is not the only case that we only discuss in legal terms. We are almost to the point where priests who have difficulties performing ceremonies for divorced and gay couples will get fired, although I think they could probably defend the theology. We don’t want priests with a conscience. They should just obey what society’s will at any point is.
There are certainly many good examples in the military. We claim to engage in conflict in order to promote democracy, but it’s becoming clearer that many of the accusations that we are for the most part promoting the interests of the USA are justified. I do not know if anyone in Norway have been sent to Afghanistan unless they have volunteered, but morals and conscience are in decreasing degree accepted also in military conflicts. It’s just a matter of following orders. This would be a no brainer if it was all negative, but it’s not that simple. It is significantly worse for your conscience when you know you’re doing some good too.
I’ve written a little about the intelligence community lately. I imagine that could be a classic example. Among Snowdens revelations there were some about Norwegian intelligence being involved in the monitoring of Russian politicians and Russian industry. I believe it is illegal not to follow orders. There is no room for conviction. It serves democracy if your superiors says it does.
There are also strong indications that the U.S. is developing cyber space and outer space as new branches of the military, and this is certainly a gray area, because the international law is hopelessly far behind. We are talking about acquiring advantages over both enemies and allies, because you trust neither. I imagine that many have serious problems accepting what they have to do. If Norway is to keep up we have to get drones too. I think it’s an important part of the future of warfare and surveillance. It may be a matter of conscience for many.
Finally, I’d like to mention the media. I do not know if it is a manifestation of the same, but it is a fact that the real news has become less available. You have to pay for most online newspapers now, and you will probably still find that there is a decline in true journalism. There is currently a lot of entertainment and we are perhaps moving towards a society that does not question anything.
There are fewer and fewer who are protesting anything at all because we can only relate to what the government says is law. Integrity and conscience may disappear completely. Sometime in the future we might experience living in a fascist society like in the movie V for Vendetta. If that happens, we will need many small and big heroes like V :