le 10 janvier 2015
Wielding pens. Waving swords. Stopping traffic.
I’ve believed that for a long time, not just in the old adage that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” As a writer and a doctor, one of my greatest hopes and exultations in earning my MD was the power and respect the degree bestows, for better or for worse, deserved or not, to be a spoken/outspoken advocate, and to be published for it.
I use writer in the sense of “someone for whom the act of writing is not an option; someone for whom writing is as necessary to existence as is oxygen.” I use doctor in the sense of not just the traditional physician and caretaker for a body and a person, but in the Latin derivation of “doceo, docere – to teach.”
Almost every sentence and every paragraph here starts with I. There is, too, now, “Je suis Charlie/ I am Charlie,” for what it’s worth, for belief in and disbelief against the recent attacks in Paris of freedom of speech.
I have recently felt ill, paralyzed, galvanized by moment and by turn by the deaths of Ebola, inequalities in Africa and health systems in Africa, prejudice, hatred, and fear of those of African descent living in the United States, focus on a few individuals sick in a country where they can be taken care of versus thousands upon thousands in countries whose fragile infrastructures are being destroyed; by injustices perpetrated by institutional racism across the country and most poignantly, most close to home in New York, a system in which I, physicians in general, anyone in a hierarchical position of power is complicit, where I weakly, as a primary care physician, offer flu shots and preventative measures to my patients who, in the South Bronx, are more likely to go to prison than to college, who could be stopped and frisked on the basis of nothing, who fear and are injustly feared on a daily basis.