Archive for the ‘Civilization’ Category

Who is going to save the world if not us?

November 28, 2010

The United Nations is creating in a month an Agency on Women’s Rights and the prevention of violence against women. The former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet will be running this. She is a pediatrician who was first Minister of Health, then Minister of Defense then President of her country.

Part of the point of my book ‘Routine Miracles’ was to remind physicians and medical students that we, as a profession, are in a far better position to help the world and the civilization than most. Why do Americans immediately accept a 700 billion dollar military but begrudge 100 billion to implement healthcare reform?

If doctors were as aggressive as the national rifle association, every American would have two healthcare policies. The recent elections, with many, including DOCTOR Rand Paul in Kentucky running on a platform of repealing healthcare reform is a disappointment at best, and disgusting at worst. At the single highest paid, best educated profession in the country, we should be running on a platform of ‘Do the right thing, we will find a way to pay for it.”

It could have been worse, On the other hand, the right time to do the right thing for suffering people is….NOW! On a single shopping day post Thanksgiving, we spent nearly 20 billion dollars. It seems that we always have enough time and money for what is important to us.

If I can find myself a way into the U.N. to work in that Agency, I am going. What do I have to lose? I sent Michelle Bachelet a letter friday. Let’s see.

This is important for those of you out there wondering whether you should try to go for some dream you have. Maybe you think it is only advice I give to others and not myself.

This agency is to make sure that Violence and rape against women as a routine tool of statecraft is stopped. That U. N peacekeepers who did NOT intervene in Congo while women were raped on the doorway get their asses kicked so that they protect those women.

Time for the six foot four inch USMLE teacher to get on the ground in those places and control male bad behavior. I am not experienced, I don’t know that I am qualified, but I know that my cause is just. So, anybody got Michelle Bachelet’s Phone number or email? I need to tell her how I am going to switch from USMLE teacher to U.N. employee.

The worst thing that could happen is that I fail. So what?


The Greatness of a Society is based on how the BOTTOM 10% are treated, not the top 1%

November 20, 2010

Every society throughout time has had an aristocracy, a top 1%. Even the poorest countries have a luxuriant top few. That is not what distinguishes the greatness of a civilization. It is how we treat the bottom and the middle that makes a Civilization great. Universal public school education does not de-value the educational accomplishments of a Nobel prize winner, yet even this concept in the most affluent countries of universal literacy is only barely 100 years old.

There have been a top few treated well with luxurious food, servants, mansions and massages, but it is the discipline NEVER to mistreat the weak that makes the civilization great. The top people have ALWAYS gotten the best standard of the day in healthcare, but there is something very wrong about people so proud of withholding healthcare from vulnerable people they actually advertise that their number one public policy goal is to repeal healthcare reform.
First off, they will not succeed,but worse than that, they show the smallness of their souls and the narrow minded, dare I say discusting selfishness of their followers.

Brothers and Countrymen once again

December 26, 2009

It is not often that I must think about the ‘idea of America’, but with the passage of Healthcare reform, we now enter the Golden Age of Medicine.

There is to be a THIRTY percent increase in the output of all US med Schools over three years. There is to be a 15,000 person increase in the number of residents.

So, America sheds a light, or covers a light over MUCH greater area than just our own land.

Robert Kennedy 1968
“SURELY, we can begin to work a little harder,
To bind up the wounds among us,
and to become in our hearts,
Brothers and Countrymen,
Once again.”

Passage of Healthcare Reform in the Senate

December 26, 2009

“More perfect Union” . It’s an interesting and good phrase from the ‘Declaration of Independence”. Not too arrogant, not too much intoxicated demagoguery that obliterates accuracy by saying ‘perfect’ or ‘complete’, but today, In America, we DO have a ‘More Perfect Union’.

Two or three generations ago, a woman could not vote, black people could not get a seat on a bus and it was okay to invade countries if you were strong enough.
In the ‘Post imperial” world, we do not need more territory, more land and geography. And, I am completely sure, that we as a society, have enough money for what is important to us.

Today, 30 million Americans will start on the process towards health coverage, the REAL risk to their lives. Today, enough Americans decided that FIRST you do what is right, then AFTER you figure out how to pay for it.
In America today, goodness has won. Justice is polished, Hope is stronger, the dream of a better america has occurred, ‘more perfect”

Our Hour to reach Greatness again in America: Nearing Universal Coverage

November 1, 2009

With Nine Months in office, the President and the Current congress have gone farther towards universal healthcare coverage than at any other time in the History of America. Not since Medicare was voted into being in 1965, against the same objections of the Republican party that it would bankrupt America, that we would get ‘Socialized Medicine” have we seen such a leap forward. i was on a panel discussion today at the University of Missouri and I saw GoodWill in action. With little care for how it would affect us personally in Medicine, I witnessed a total committment to reach out an fulfill the “Idea” that is America.

Remember, ‘America” is an idea, not geography.  My America does not torture. My America protects the weak and the vulnerable. My America is packed with a tulmultuous energy that welcomes everyone, from every land and distills the best drops of the Species on these shores and creates a fragrance of Hope and Heroism.

The Senate and House bills both put us at either 94 or 96% coverage of Americans. Both prevent denial of coverage to those who are the most ill, with pre-existing conditions and those are catastrophically ill. Both increase re-imbursement for primary care to balance the scales.

Let us pause for a moment and rest, and revel in the marvel of change. Let us absorb the energy of this tremendous HOPE and use it to finish the job. A strong public option. Control of the runaway greed of private health insurance. Expansion of the Med schools and the residencies, and let us pause, look at the closing of Guantanamo bay, the re-engagement of the rest of the world as a partner, not a tyrant, and let us feel the bliss, if only for a moment, that the idea of America, our Heroic and best America, our generous and noble America is. today, a more perfect union.

Obama and the Nobel Prize

October 9, 2009

I was truly shocked today to find the President awarded a peace prize with less than a year in office, and no firm accomplishments of resolved conflicts.

What can this mean?

An accident?  “Oops! sorry, it was supposed to be in 2019 NOT 2009!”

I don’t think so. the prize was given to the president to give him a moral,  and stature leg up to help in the QUEST for peace. This is rare in this prize. It was given as a way of helping foster the kinds of efforts layed out in his speach to the United Nations.

It seems that the world is ready to achieve peace.
What will we accomplish when we are no longer afraid?  Today I presented in a hospital in Chicago to one of the rare combinations of Faculty and Students together. What would we work on if we were not afraid and worried about our own future?

This is the time to re-consider everything we had formerly thought of as impossible. This is the time to re-commit to the nobel impulses that drove us forward in the first place. I, myself, must be a little more paitent, but not much.

“Sentient Beings are Numberless: I vow to save them”

October 5, 2009

“Sentient” means ‘something which has the ability to feel”. It comes from the same root as the spanish word ‘Sentir’.


It is also one of the three vows of the Buddhists in Zen meditation. At the Soji Zen Center yesterday, I presented on ‘Routine Miracle” in Philadelphia.

If you live in Philadelphia, I encourage you to go there, meet the teacher and get started. I spent two years doing Zen in medical school, until they finally told me, I would still have to sit still and be quiet.

Our paths are different, but the goal is the same.


Peace in many places: Let’s feel good for a minute

October 3, 2009

Julius Caesar documented Celtic warriors running into battle naked and painted blue. 2,000 years of conflict between England and Ireland, the Scots and the Welsh is over. Even in the north of Ireland, peace is in place.

The Tamil Tigers have surrendered, and although there are mistreatments of the vanquished group, that war is over.

Not since Hadrian in 72AD has Europe seen a moment of peace. Continuous war betweens it’s states, and now the only argument is the price of beer and conflicts are worked out where they should be, on the Football (Soccer) field.

Don’t get too hypnotized by the difficulties in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Look at the places where THOUSANDS of years of conflict have come to peace.

Peace does not sell newspapers, and neither does “Routine Miracles”.  Beauty takes time to appreciate. Conflict hijacks your attention.

Sixty years of continuous peace in Europe. 

RE-devote yourself to the consideration of beauty and the imposssilbe. Bring it into being. Make an effort towards it. YOu only have one thing to sacrifice. YOur own suffering, worry and pain

The “Graying of an Epidemic”

October 3, 2009

The morning mail with all of its excitement and banality. One of a dozen invitations a week to attend an educational conference comes, evidence that some ‘trusted’ organization is selling my identity. “The Graying of an Epidemic” . It is the need for an educational conference because people with AIDS are now living so long that the caregivers need to be trained in a bit of geriatrics.

What a miraculous age of the world!!

How to handle living so unexpectantly LONG with AIDS!

We are entering the age when all things formerly considered impossible, are now becoming graspable! Get on board! Forget your own economic self-interest and safety. Leap and the net will appear.

September 30, 2009

Critical Interview today. Please disseminate