January 17, 2019

Pathway to peace

By Crystal Mendoza

By: Andrew M. Harrison, MD, PhD

P2P. Surely this acronym has not yet been claimed.

I met a clown recently. As Patch Adams was the only clown I knew of, also a physician on the side, I joined him for the recent holiday season in the backwoods of West Virginia at the Gesundheit! Institute for their annual Health Care Justice Celebration/Workshop. In a place with no cellular and (effectively) no internet reception, I learned at least as much in these few days as the past 17 years of Wikipedia (happy birthday) combined. More important, in a world of death and destruction, I discovered a beautiful vision of hope for the future of humanity. I am not a clown, or hippie, but can aspire, so here it goes:

The dacha (and some other stuff) at the Gesundheit! Institute. As a former photo tech, back when film was still a thing, I do not believe any photograph shall ever capture the beauty experienced by the human eye. In other words, see it for yourself. Of course, only if a transformational life experience is your sort of thing 🙂

Make love, not war. I live in a world where access to education is not a basic human right. In this same world, access to health care is also not a basic human right. This occurs at a time and place when the combined wealth of the four wealthiest men (emphasis on men) approximately equals the combined wealth the four billion poorest people on this small planet. This is wrong. Whether I shall present a solution here or not, it must first be stated this is wrong, and thus fundamentally rejected as an unacceptable state of affairs, for great power exists in the (seemingly simple) act of saying "no" (Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times by Eyal Press, 2013).

Although less important than education and health care, privacy is also not a basic human right. Whether humanity is forced to confront some form of Terminator-style (and/or benevolent) technological singularity before global warming (politically correct vogue "climate change"), and/or nuclear holocaust, destroy society and civilization as it is currently known, the absence of this basic human right grows increasingly odd to me. At least, in the context of delusions ranging from colonizing Mars to fantasies such as human immortality. In my opinion, we should first focus our time, energy, and effort toward matters such as rape, murder, mass death by starvation, genocide, which I think only comes in a mass variety, etc.

I needed to swing by The Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta (again) on my drive from Minnesota to West Virginia, a place riddled with humor, jokes, and comedy. If these experiences are not your sort of thing either, perhaps—from the safety of your cyber bubble house hopefully home—Patch Adams at Mayo Clinic (Transform 2010), or Patch Adams at TEDx (multiple).

One solution is to spend years to [however many decades humans have remaining] meticulously and individually arguing each of the matters above. Another option is the restoration of community. An end to mass isolation and loneliness. These factors are the drivers of the modern diseases of the modern (first/developed…) world, both individual and communal.

A special plea to physicians: Lead the movement to end titles. In a world of peace and love, there is no need or place for titles, or post-nominal letters. Also, LEAD. Stop studying yourselves. Stop "researching" your supposed burnout. Stop talking about imposter syndrome. When nature (literally) burns out, there occurs a simultaneously beautiful act of destruction and creation (rebirth). If you are concerned you are an imposter, try hugging a tree. As for unconscious bias, microaggression, and "constructive communication", try swimming out as far as the ocean will permit you to go and feel what is present (and absent) there.

Anatomic Pathology headquarters at the Rochester MN campus of Mayo Clinic (Sept 2016). My condolences to Rochester physicians, but suits must go. The Mayo Brothers swapped white coats for suits to bring clinicians *closer* to patients (in the late 1800s). For anyone in this modern world more out of touch with it than me, the 1800s are over, you appear as corporate clowns. For the more concrete and/or practical minded: Standard 55 has been obsolete for decades (and sexist forever). Save the money (energy too). Also, ties are simply filthy. Not the good sort of whoopie cushion (fart bag) filthy. Note: Traditionally pathologists (and radiologists) are considered physicians but not clinicians; titles.

Wikipedia has popularized the concept of small monetary donations. The Gesundheit! Institute adopts a similar approach. Although I am not religious, this approach, at least here and now, has a feel to me of Natural Order, Natural Law (Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, 1952). If this approach seems too simple, it is not (The Simple Life by Ernst Wiechert, 1939). Wikipedia aims to continue making freely available all the [data/information but not necessarily knowledge] of the world. Patch Adams desires to reopen his visionary hospital, which has been closed since before my birth.

If I have failed to convince you to adopt peace via love, write a letter to Patch Adams. He really does respond to ALL letters, seriously. (Clowns do not joke.) His address can be found via Dr. Google, or me. One difference, I give free hugs. Alternatively, Dr. Google has the capacity to generate a more substantial electrical shock.

From The Cultivation of Christmas Trees by TS Elliot (1954):
The accumulated memories of annual emotion
May be concentrated into a great joy
Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion
When fear came upon every soul:
Because the beginning shall remind us of the end
And the first coming of the second coming.

About the author: Andrew M. Harrison is a graduate of the Medical Scientist Training Program at Mayo Clinic, former co-manager of Mayo Clinic’s Diversity in Education Blog, former Policy Chair of the American Physician Scientists Association, and current postdoc with Critical Care at Mayo Clinic.

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