My pathological optimism is under assault. How do I live with myself as a privileged white man? How do I continue my advocacy as a patient activist? This week I listened to Terry Gross speak with Maya Dusenbery on Fresh Air about her book, Doing Harm, The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick. I listened to Amy Chua speak about her book Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations on the Lawfare Podcast. I watched Samantha Bee on Full Frontal talking about women, history, and the treatment of pain. The wind has been sucked out of my sails. I may style myself a feminist, but the country, the healthcare system, medical research and the breaks are designed for me. I certainly have my challenges, but they are minimal compared to those outside my shrinking white man minority tribe.
I care about learning what works for people – groups and individuals – as they strive for best health. Yet most historical evidence – research – has been designed for white men, not women, not refugees, not people with limited means and power. It makes me crazy. What is wrong with us? Plus, our nation seems to increasingly petty, mean, shortsighted, and self-interested.
OK, white boy, get over it. I once got myself in trouble at diversity training. I said, My father was gay, my parents were holocaust survivors and refugees, my brother and sister are of mixed race, and I’m a man in a female dominant field – nursing. And now I’m disabled. My prejudices aren’t about gender, religion, race, disability. I’m prejudiced against thoughtless people. I was not appreciated.
Anyway, nothing has changed from before this week and now. The world is still crazy. I live in a racist, misogynistic, mean-spirited country. Thankfully, there are tribes of people trying to do the right thing. I can’t afford to lose my pathological optimism. I’m still working more and more on advocacy about making collaborative health choices (informed decision-making) with my health team based on science and my environment, circumstances, and values. Treating health choices as a grand experiment is still a sound approach. Try stuff, see if it works. If it doesn’t, adjust. I am so heartened by the March for Our Lives initiatives. Activated young people are our hope and our future.
It’s Passover, time to celebrate liberation. Liberation is not a destination, it’s the journey.
Thanks for listening to me rant. Good to be on this journey with you. We have work to do.
Thoughts on Liberation
Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. Martin Luther King Jr.
I did nothing but international liberation politics for ten years, and usually it was like, you gain an inch, you lose a half an inch. It’s slow going, man. Steven Van Zandt
If you’ve got nothing to dance about, find a reason to sing. Melody Carstairs
On the road to liberation, learn to press Next. Even if there is no such an option. Talismanist Giebra
I am the bended, but not broken. I am the power of the thunderstorm. I am the beauty in the beast. I am the strength in weakness. I am the confidence in the midst of doubt. I am Her! Kierra C.T. Banks