More and more, journalism seems to have hopped out of Truth’s pocket and crept into another--Henry Rollins
There are things I simply can’t explain--my fascination with Henry Rollins being one of them. Or perhaps my persistent curiosity to find the original “thing”.
Let me explain. When I hear or read a story I want to know where it was seeded.
Who created the idea that germinated into this shiny product I am consuming.
Nature has it wired. Cancer, plague, viruses, parasites and other grotesque, microscopic killers are there to thin the herd. Of course we fight back. This being the case — along with other factors such as our inability to always play well with others — not everyone is going to have a long, healthy life.
The raw truth is what I crave. Perhaps I never get there but the telling is in the journey. It might be why I needed to create this platform. A place where I can toss up some ideas or better yet--run them up a flag pole and see if anyone salutes.
Maybe that’s why I retired from medical writing. Medical writing is about telling a narrowly defined truth based on limited data and polished to a shiny hue illuminated with profit and false narratives. Okay. It sounds a bit harsh but if we poke a little deeper there is something crumbled and stale in the pocket of truth. We aren’t talking about health care. We are talking about disease care.
Conversations about health should address structural determinants of health. How do we alleviate the unequal distribution of power and resources in our communities? Instead we wring our hands and lose the focus. We label the buckshot and start dismantling the assault in a piecemeal manner. The best intentions are littered with discussions of race, gender expression, and class. Divide and conquer strategies might explain why we are still having the same conversations. If we address the cause instead of the symptoms, perhaps effective policy will follow.
Whether with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, class, or other markers of human difference, the prevailing American narrative often draws a sharp line between the United States' “past” and its “present,” with the 1960s and 1970s marking a crucial before-and-after moment in that narrative. This narrative asserts that until the 1950s, U.S. history was shaped by the impacts of past slavery, Indian removal, lack of rights for women, Jim Crow segregation, periods of nativist restrictions on immigration and waves of mass deportation of Hispanic immigrants, eugenics, the internment of Japanese Americans, the Chinese exclusion policies, the criminalization of “homosexual acts,” and more (Gee and Ford, 2011; Gee et al., 2009). White women and people of color were effectively barred from many occupations and could not vote, serve on juries, or run for office. People with disabilities suffered widespread discrimination, institutionalization, and social exclusion.--Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity
There is hard work to do when you want actionable answers. The history of our country is shameful, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Reading about James Madison we realize that although we celebrate him as a founder of our country, he also argued that white land-owning men were best suited to lead our nation or to have a vote in how our nation was to be led. They represented only 6% of the population at the signing of the founding documents.
It seems coincidental to have discovered a book that changed my thoughts and awareness on such a cellular level in a book shop on his former plantation. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist.
This has been a meandering way of introducing The Atlantic Festival. Earlier this week the historical Atlantic Monthly hosted a virtual version of their lively festival.
Here is how they won. They won on the content of diverse conversations and inclusion.
First, it was free. Subscribers had a few extra sessions and the ability to network but the important discussions were available for everyone. That decision alone has made me a subscriber for life. Go to YouTube and hunt down the videos. You are welcome.
The journalists are the best in the world. I say that as a subscriber to Washington Post and The New York Times. It is our job, not just as colleagues but as readers to challenge and be informed. Not all journalism is created equal. I am haunted by a story by Barton Gellman.
Here is a link to the video.
The Interregnum comprises 79 days, carefully bounded by law. Among them are “the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December,” this year December 14, when the electors meet in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast their ballots for president; “the 3d day of January,” when the newly elected Congress is seated; and “the sixth day of January,” when the House and Senate meet jointly for a formal count of the electoral vote. In most modern elections these have been pro forma milestones, irrelevant to the outcome. This year, they may not be.--The Election That Could Break America
I am invigorated. I have stories to tell and I will pursue my work examining poverty and relying on CENSUS data to tell the narrative of our communities. The ability to connect during these times of social isolation, and to gather synergistically in support of the principles of The Atlantic.
Its befitting that I can hear the ceremony for Ruth Bader Ginsburg broadcasting from the United States Capitol playing on NPR in the background. The words remind me of what we are now responsible for pursuing. The ideals and grace of one who served and achieved so much for all of us.
“tzedek, tzedek tirdof” meaning “justice, justice you shall pursue” (Deut. 16:20)
And we should be reminded that it takes all of us to contribute to the ongoing promise of the First Amendment.
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
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