Thursday, October 21, 2010

VALUES


Commenter DreamsAmelia (see her Oct. 20 note) writes with passion and eloquence that demand a blog of her own. At least she’s cranked me up.

She writes about the proposed devastation of Winkler Botanical Preserve in Alexandria, VA. The idea is to build a traffic-easing exit ramp from Highway 395, and the Preserve is in the way. The sorry lack of foresight, history and imagination that can destroy a park for short-term commuter relief is epidemic. Where I live, in the rural Sierra foothills, huge mining companies perennially vie to rape our land for its gold, ruining our air and water in the process.

When you look deeply into healthcare’s current engine, you see that its flywheel is similar: business considerations outweigh human values. In the span of my life I’ve watched healthcare devolve from  service to commerce, but so gradually that its practitioners barely noticed. The obsession with diagnosis as be-all and end-all is a perfect match with profit as be-all and end-all in the business arena. The kids (I call them that because I’m of an age to be their grandfather) who are now entering medical training either have no idea that medicine was practiced more slowly, softly and inexpensively in living memory, or they do know that and believe today’s impersonal, industrial style actually represents progress.

How to reverse the engine? I believe that every one of us yearns to be loved and comforted, enjoy contact with others, and maximize our life quality--in other words, realize values beyond financial. I see it in online social networking, where people want desperately to believe their “friends” are real friends. I see it in supermarkets, where a shopper slows the checkout line to smalltalk with a clerk. I see it in patients’ demands for more humane healthcare. I want to help ignite those yearnings, help change Americans from passive “consumers” into active, potent, healthy citizens.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps sheer etiquette would dictate that if a comment exceeds the length of a blog post, the commenter should start a blog. But blogs without comments, to me, are just sad, and they are much richer when numerous people congregate and comment, no matter how light-hearted or deep the commentators wish to be...blogs are the living book...reading is a creative activity, and throughout history, authors and readers have been separated, often by centuries. The blog is an experiment in quasi real time for reader and writer to connect and influence each other. The question, like all virtual social networking, is it perhaps _less_ meaningful than, for example, reading all of _Anna Karenina_ and being left with imponderable questions that simply cannot be answered, with no way to contact the author, and to dream wildly of what type of conversation you would have if you actually met the author? Actually, checking Wikipedia just now, it originally came out in serial installments, so perhaps people of Tolstoy's time discussed it with their neighbors like people today talk about American Idol?
    And I think that is part of the beauty of older practice of medicine--deferred longings. Some things, like connecting with an author through a text, were bound to forever be incomplete. Questions would remain forever unanswered. All the important questions of existence will forever be unanswerable, though physics, religion, medicine, literature and technology give us tantalizing partial answers...and likewise, major diseases like tuberculosis and flu killed millions of people who lay dying with no cure, yet people still "believed in" their doctors. Their family members still called for them to come when their loved ones were close to death...and I think that is the key...the doctor is really there for the survivors, to witness their love for their family member, to acknowledge it...and for the family members to assuage their guilt that truly, there was nothing they could do to keep their family member alive, but by having the doctor, they tried...
    which, in the end, is why Dr. Kane advocating for people to be active, potent, healthy citizens IS the key, and all good doctors are equally psychologists and community activists, promoting connection in real communities, and real connection to the land and Nature...
    ...we have to resist being made impotent by trillions of dollars now flooding into our elections, by sham grass roots organizations that infiltrate zoning commission meetings to side with the developers, sham Tea Party groups that confuse poor people and rich people's true interests....everywhere we turn, as more and more people arrive on the planet, as technology and money allow hitherto unseen new corporate giants to seemingly gobble up our humanity...at the final reckoning, none of that does actually disengage our personal strength to reach out to those around us and to create justice where we are...and illness is a tremendous opportunity to recognize we are not infallible, as I am forced to do with this cold that continues to blaze a hole through the middle of my head while a coal burns in my throat and my nose is singed in half depending on which direction my head is on the pillow...Neither over the counter remedies, nor the z-pac has put a dint in it...but having this blog to turn to when awake has made me feel better than all the available medicine!

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