Monday, September 23, 2013

“...the healing of a common humanity”

My title here is a passing phrase in a remarkable column at the New York Times, “Medicine’s Search for Meaning,” especially the second half of the article which moves beyond discussing the loss of meaning in the business of medicine to how medical schools are securing the feeling for medicine, and senior physicians are finding renewal. 

It’s not a common humanity that’s being healed, of course; rather, the disclosure of one’s own humanity as the basis for durable empathy and for belonging durably to the art of the calling—the work of the art—heals. 

What if the heart of public policy was public health, such that it was funded at the current level of the military, and the military gets funded at the current level of public health? (What if all militaries scaled back to purely defense, like Japan or northwestern Europe—which have great qualities of life!–so that public health could be a prevailing fiscal value? What if the United Nations had an effective military force and effective Security Council, so that nations could scale back confidently?)

What if the origin of the work of art is desire to be enabling others (as teaching is supposed to be); and cultivation of humanity is the mission of public policy; and political ethics is led by a love of our common humanity? 

One would wake up, and laugh.