Physician, Heal Thyself

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Lately, in an ongoing struggle with myself concerning stubborn bigotry and ignorance, and how best you and I can confront and change it, my training as a medic and practical nurse has come to mind.

Palliative care versus treatment. Triage versus whack-a-mole.

We all know how contentious debate on social media is. How quickly disagreement can turn to personal insult. How easy it is, consequently, to walk away. But we all know in our hearts that nothing ever changes if ignored.

It occurred to me late last week that online debate is palliative treatment versus healing the diseases. God knows I’m as guilty as anyone, maybe more so than most. When it comes to bullies, I’m kneejerk pugnacious. And these issues have victims. Bigotry still has to be called out, even shamed.

But actual healing requires treatment of the core problem, and triage means treating the most crucial first: I’m the core problem; I’m the most crucially diseased. Chances are so are you.

You and I are ignorant. We want to fix things, but we don’t know how, because we don’t really understand them.

That’s treatable, but steel yourself, because it’s painful. Especially for white people, especially for white males. (But it should go without saying that our pain of seeing ourselves for what we are is nothing compared to the plight of 2.3 million Americans behind bars, for example.)

If you care, don’t waste time arguing with people whose opinions are the symptoms. Call out bigotry. But treat yourself. Start by watching 17th, a documentary Netflx has made free on YouTube. Then read So You Want to Talk About Race. (Almost certainly available from your library.) From there, you can pursue your own treatment, and maybe we can help heal this world.

P.S. Hey, gamers! Roll a d20 versus world population. On a 1, you’re American! Then roll a d20 versus world prison population. On a 1-5, you’re also American. :-/

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