Memorial Day – A Celebration of Life.


As we celebrate Memorial Day lets us all take a deep breath and look at those around us. Celebrate with remembrance. I would like to suggest that we continue to remember those who are struggling as much as we celebrate the fallen. The fallen are a reminder of how terrible we can be to each other and a caution to us all. Let us not lose focus, we celebrate because some were taken before their time.

Let us celebrate life and work to preserve our essential freedoms without the need for the loss of life. Let us celebrate nature and the circle of life. Happy Memorial Day to all.

DO NOT GIVE THEM AN EXCUSE TO KILL YOU.


Once more our country is focused on the aftermath of the death of a young black man. The frequency with which this scenario occurs is alarming, disgraceful and is not likely to change in my life time. I am a 40-year-old physician without a criminal record. I have a brother who is a Veterinarian and another an Airline pilot. Neither has a criminal record, but we all have experienced the brutality of American racism. We do not often talk about it. We live it and pray that our children will have a better experience. We want them to get a good education and not be killed by the police. That is our American dream.

The truth of what happened in Ferguson is irreverent to us because we live the brutally of knowing that at any moment we could be killed for no reason. As black Americans we have come a far way, but the fundamental problem for us has changed very little. We are not seen as humans, we are seen as murderers waiting for an opportunity. We are determined to survive so we try standing up for ourselves. However, standing up for yourself as a black man is seen as threatening. Success for us is about surviving the constant attempt to institutional us. If that can be avoided material success is possible, but only if you are not convinced to give up before you have had a chance to try. Material success is about picking your battles.

As a Physician I see the contempt patients show towards me at times, I swallow and still provide them the best care possible. I love taking care of patients and that care is not about anything but my pride in doing the best job I can. Because I provide you with care supported by the best evidence I am comfortable. In spite of providing excellent care I am challenged but nurses and patients. I often wonder what I am doing wrong, but it does not matter. I am of the wrong completion, so my care is subject to review. I need to justify my decisions with evidence, while others provide poor care and are not challenged. This is my life as a black physician.

I am strong enough because I was brought up in a culture that expected me to succeed. My early years in Jamaica has given me a belief in myself that is difficult to shake. It has been shaken, but I have recovered. Unfortunately my girls are growing up in a society that does not expect them to succeed. I will push them hard because their mistakes, no matter how insignificant, will be judged and punished harshly. I need to build in them confidence that is based on competence because our country will not give them the chances they deserve. I will teach them about how not to get killed.

The sad story is that my girls and my nieces and nephews will be at risk from violence from all sides. There is more violence in black communities both from cops and criminals alike. There is nowhere to hide, there is only learning how to manage the risk. Our treatment as black Americans is dependent on the complexion of our company. While out with my brothers and nephews we are treated like predators and undesirables. The excuses for treating us like monsters are varied but none are credible. In spite of the despicable treatment I often experience, I will still treat you well. I will still give you the best health care, although I will not be given the same treatment.

Rioting will not help nor will talking. Sorry Martin, I no longer have a dream, just a reality, ” Do Not Give Them an Excuse To Kill You”.

Be safe America.

IT WILL BE WORTH THE INVESTMENT


As Americans we expect to be the best in every field. Our expectations have been built on both historic experience and much self-delusion. We have achieved much because of  a long history of  focusing on our challenges and working together to solve them. There is no golden era,  just a time when Americans expected much and worked harder to achieve.  Today we have gotten used to the idea of achievement, but lack the vision or leadership to achieve. Long after we have done anything to declare us better than the rest we still believe ourselves to be.

This delusion is killing us slowly. It is allowing us the luxury of contentment. It is allowing us to believe the delusion that our children are getting a world-class education. It has allowed us to believe that our kids do not need to be the best in maths or science, but that they are more creative and will still be the winners of the next generation. We will one day find out the truth. Winning  as a nation means setting high expectations for all our citizens. Ensuring the continued success of our nation will depend on ensuring a second-to-none education for all.

Expecting little from the majority of our students is a recipe for disaster. All of our children deserve to be pushed hard, because they will not break. I believe all of America’s children can excel,  but only if we expect them to and begin giving them a shot at a world-class education.

Rigorous and challenging classrooms are what we need more than ever. Fun and education focused homes is where we need to start. Along with car seat education every parent should be given a blueprint as to how to start their child’s education. From birth to kindergarten is where the real focus needs to be. Parents need to be guided as how to challenge their prized little ones. It is that challenge and example that will determine their trajectory in life. Let us focus some pennies on our children’s education. It will be well worth the investment.

WAR and PEACE


The cycle of war and peace continues like the flow of water. Unlike the processes of nature, it is not inevitable. The process of life is about choice. We have the ability to choose the path we take. The decisions we make are not preordained, we are our life’s directors. As we direct our life we must take care of the vulnerable among us. War is a selfish act, resulting from the disregard for the many. It is the result of disordered thinking, that justifies killing as a means of protection. The incongruity of that argument is evident if we would reflect on it. Our reflection must consider the social nature of our species where we will follow those among us that profess caring and loyalty to the group. Unfortunately, the malicious and selfish among us have and will continue to exploit the majority, until the majority decides to be as concerned about the stranger as we are about the ones closes to us.

The more important question that needs examining concerns what will our future be if we do not break the cycle. War may bring a temporary peace, but the underlying discord will resurface. The cycle must be broken, if humanity expects to survive. The cycle can be broken when we address the root causes. Where the root of war is usually the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few. We must reconsider our use of the planet’s resources. It will be painfully to many, but will be beneficial to the most. We may not think that we are exploiting anyone, but if we examine our life it will become clearer that many of us are consuming excessive quantifies of the available resources.

If we all consider and re-order our life’s the great masses of the deprived on our planet could have the possibility to improve their lives. The cycle of war with interludes of peace could be broken by each of us say no to exploitation. We all have a responsibility to our species. Our care needs to extend further than down the street. We need to extend our care and concern to the father thousands of miles away that cannot feed his family, while we dump more food that we eat.

War is and always will be about resources. Let us all take a stand and share.

LOVE ALL EQUALLY


There is a continuing fight all over the world today. It is mental, intellectual and physical. I’m not talking about terrorism in its State and Non-State forms. I’m talking about the continuing fight for equality and civil rights. This fight is getting simultaneously easier and harder. The right to embrace our individual sexual orientation is to me a basic human right that is worth defending. Although homosexuality has gained much wider acknowledgment and in many countries is no longer a sentence to death or deprivation, there is still much to do. The improved prospects have been won by hard intelligent work. As with any progress, only vigilance will maintain the momentum and keep our society honest. Many will disagree but I will continue to wholeheartedly support the equal rights of all in our society.

The deprivation of rights from any member of our Society makes us all less free. Fortunately the fight for the future is already won because a much maligned generation, generation Y, has fully embraced equality. The continuing battle is to define a clear and open future for those who are unfortunately living under less equitable systems. Many in our culture still have not gotten the “memo” but the momentum is not with them, this movement is irreversible. As irreversible as the general direction of progress is, there will be setbacks. These setbacks will be reminders of how far society as traveled.  I am proud to be living in an age where we are having the discussion about living up to the ideals of equality expressed in our constitutions. The march of progress is evident in the many same-sex couples that are out and open. I am proud and happy to take care of the same-sex couples in the hospital. Many are older and the acknowledgment of their decades old relationships is something that many wanted to see but never expected. They have all lived extraordinary lives because their love survived the ugliness of an intolerant society. Other groups can claim similar experiences and we should celebrate together the maturing of global culture.

As a young person growing up in a proudly homophobic society I saw many around that were different but never judged nor did I defend. I was confused by the incongruity that was religious society. On one hand extolling the love of Christ while also calling for the death and persecution of others. It was obvious to me that the love of Christ should extend to all his creatures, but that was not the a prevalent opinion. This divergence is still a puzzle to me. Older and not necessarily wiser I would not change the culture of my up bringing, but I say now with much confidence that we had it wrong. I never spoke openly about my opinion, but treated all around me equally. The truth is that there are people of varying orientations in the Church and our Father has directed us to love all equally.

BETTER WILL COME


The epidemic of morbid obesity engulfing the world is a testament to mankind’s greed and lack of insight. We continue to devour the planets resources without any close examination of the consequences. Some are so greedy that we think we should have a right to plunder without regard for the other creatures that share the planet with us. This gross lack of understanding of the ecosystem that we are apart is expressed as our expanding waist lines.

As we continue to grow later in number and individual size we complain about over crowding and stress. We complain about obesity associated diseases but still have giant food parties at work and home. We want what we want and will not change. This lack of insight to connect our greed with our continuing illness is continuing to kill us. We continue to teach our kids to eat empty calories and expect that they will grow into healthy adults. This gross lack of insight is a reflection of a society devoid of competent leaders.

The good news is that the upcoming generation will in fact have better insight because of the wasteland of a planet that our generation will leave them. I see the seeds already. They will not be burdened with the excess earns that leads to purchasing for purchasing sake. They will make better use of their resources and in doing so will rescue our sick planet from the brink of our self-imposed destruction.
I hope to live long enough to see concrete evidence, but I have seem enough to be hopeful.

One day the greedy self-centered industries that feed the obesity beast will be found out and regulated into oblivion. That day cannot come soon enough, but I will be patient because the patient shall inherit the earth.

I WILL NOT BECOME A STATISTIC.


As the world stands by and watches the flames of conflict I am saddened. I am saddened because humanity continues to destroy ourselves. We continue to sow the seeds of distrust and anger among our children. We seem not to be able to remember the pain that we have endured. We call on others to pursue peace as we beat the drums of war. How can peace be attained while retribution is supported? How can we support the process of peace while developing the means of war?

Some will say that war will always be with us. The truth is more complex and challenging than that simple statement. War will be with us as long as our leaders are cowards. As long as our leaders behave like street thugs, but are not held to the same rules. The problem is, there is no one to hold the powerful to the same  rules as the weak are held. Fundamentally the thugs that rule world politics are rich in resources both monetary and civic. They are primarily rich in civic resources. Powerful people support the slaughter and protect the barbaric.

We wonder why young educated and economically stable people join in the barbarism of conflicts all over the world. That questions is only asked by the morally deprived. I was brought up with a deep moral compass, in a country that has a longstanding history of supporting the “little” guy. The sun and fun of Jamaica was always equally matched by our deep mistrust of world powers, because we have suffer at the hands of the powerful. The powerful will always abuse the weak as long as the weak allow it. The arc of history is long and today’s victory for the morally deprave will turn into tomorrows sadness.

Many of us, and I include myself have long ago stopped being attentive to the many slaughters on the world stage. We have stopped paying attention because our anger has no outlet. We have joined the ranks of those that have chosen to deliberately not follow the happens in the world. We have stopped watching because the answers are obvious but will never be acted on. The powerful are amoral and the killing of non-combatants has become acceptable. We have stopped watching because there is no one willing to call out the complicity of those that pretend to represent us.

I have stopped watching because it makes me angry. I will not allow my anger to push me into the world of the depraved. I will not become a statistic.

WHAT IS YOUR AMERICAN DREAM?


Every July 4th I remind myself of the courage of the founders of my country. The beauty of the declaration of independence is in the broad inclusiveness of the sentiments expressed. The global equality of mankind as expressed is at the root of the American dream. However, the history of our country is littered with the carcasses of failed policies and leaders who have not lived up to the lofty expectations of that celebrated document. The 4th should be used as a time to refocus on the sentiments expressed. This land of immigrants is not about where you were born, but about what you believe in. It is about fairness, equity and the continuous match toward a more perfect union.

The dream of America is alive and prospering despite all the attempts to distract. Some have lost hope in the self-evident greatest of the American experiment. I am not one. For people of color the American experience is that of continued heart-break, but there runs a determined strain of hope that as continued to improve our lot in this union. I read the declaration of independence on the 4th to be reminded of the promise and the progress. This is a marathon not a sprint, and we dream of true equality as we march toward that goal. This is my American dream.

I have hope because I have to be hopeful. I have young children and I know that the world has changed for the better and that change will continue. Most importantly I know that the growth in American society is irreversible because my generation and the following have made it so. As the country ages those who express the old prejudices have been out numbered and embarrassed into submission. There will always be a few stubborn ones. There will always be some expressions of darkness, but the light of equity is here to say. Progress has been slow and inconsistent but it is here to stay.

The continuous expression of hope and growth is why I continue to love my America. American greatness is derived from the philosophy of her people. If you were born in this land or emigrated the dream is the same. We are a people buoyed by hope and the understanding that we can be the best and always expect to be.

What is your American dream?

GIVE THEM THE FACTS.


I have been thinking about where we are going as a country and I do not like the trajectory. In spite of it I think we are not lost. There is still time for a late rescue. Examining the most recent employment data both encourages and worries me. The overall number and trajectory is good, the devil is in the details. Most of the jobs created are in sectors that have been and continue to be low paying. These jobs are low skilled and some would call them dead-end. The service sector is growing and has produced more jobs than it lost during the great recession. Job creation is great, except these are not the jobs needed to create a viable middle class. These are the types of jobs that create short-term corporate profits and shareholder value.

Many pundits with their ideological blinders on have “trashed”  the report while hailing the profitability of wall street without acknowledging the interdependence present. They are correct to be worried, but they have not taken the next step to discern the reasons. It is easy to say the government of the day has not provided the incentives for the creation of high paying jobs and that maybe correct. However, where are the high skilled workers? Why are there many high skilled job vacancies? I would like to suggest that the dearth of high skilled potential employees is a result of our ambivalence to and in many sectors disdain for scientific education.

We are a country of magical thinking and low expectations. Many believe that the magician from the heavens created everything and do not encourage their children to learn the foundations of science. These same people have been elected to positions of leadership and continue to lead many into the darkness of ignorance and scientific illiteracy. Our ignorance has allowed for the export of many potential jobs to countries with much less dependence on magical thinkers.  We need to put the work in that ensures that all our children receive a myth free first world science based education.

I am hopeful for America because our young people are willing and able to take on the challenge of a more competitive world. They will deliver if we are willing to allow them access to education without the misleading influence of our pervasive mythical belief system. I do not worry about our kids, I worry about the ignorance of the adults charged with guiding them. Our children are a reflection of the education we allow them to access. Educate them well and we will all reap the rewards.

ENJOY YOUR EASTER.


Often life gets in the way of living and we get carried away with the emotional. The beauty is in the living not in the life. Our experiences are the sum total and the after life is irrelevant. That view of life is much disputed, but it is my view. The constant attempt of the religious to guilt us into prescribed behaviors is admirable only in that it has so thoroughly succeeded.

The complaints that will spring from my expression of this opinion is so perfectly conjured, by the religious, as to make even the most noncommittal give credit to those views. The oddity is that the same people who believe in the absolute power of scientific evidence in the care of patients ignore the validity of those rules to justify their beliefs.

As I tell the story I lost my religion in the sixth grade when a teacher seeing I was bored gave me a book about the solar system. Not far into reading about our tiny part of the universe the story of creation as proclaimed by Genesis lost all meaning. As a 9-year-old I was not sure about what I was reading, but the seeds were planted.

Those seeds grew into my love of science and evidence. I will allow you your belief structure as long as you do not attempt to guilt  me into compliance with your view of the universe. I will acknowledge the evidence and your freedom to do otherwise. I am comfortable with the knowledge that I am not in control of the universe. I am comfortable that your religious convictions do not give you any more understanding of the universe.

Religion is about ignoring the uncertainty and providing platitudes to explain the unexplained. I will stand with the evidence and follow it where it leads. I can live with the uncertainty and strive to find the evidence to answer the important questions.  Because I am looking for evidence does not make me any less of a person than you are. It makes me less ideological.

Enjoy your Easter, while I continue to look for the evidence.