Community colleagues Claudia Williams (@ClaudiaWilliams), Nick Dawson (@NickDawson) and I hosted a delightful gathering in Arlington, Virgina for People’s State of the Union (#PSOTU2016), “AN ANNUAL CIVIC RITUAL AND PARTICIPATORY ART PROJECT” supported by the US Department of Arts and Culture (@USartsdept).
The suggested themes for stories are below. We slightly modified them to be about health.
- Share a story you think the next President absolutely needs to hear.
- Share a story about something you have experienced that gave you insight into the state of our union.
- Share a story about a moment you felt true belonging—or the opposite—in this country.
My story theme was about a time in 2015 that I felt optimistic about health in our country. It has a title that I’ve oft mentioned on this blog:
The World is Learning to Love Better
Since I’m into visuals and social media, my story includes both.
It goes like this.
The day before our gathering I saw this cartoon.
In medicine (and society), you could apply it to any group, when people say, “I have no problem with ____ people.”
I heard that a lot about lesbian/gay people, as well as about people with HIV/AIDS, when I was in training.
Actually, I hear it sometimes today, and what I hear is, as the cartoon says, “I have a problem with ____.”
It’s the problem of bias, explicit, and implicit, and it continues to challenge the medical profession.
In that context the story about optimism happens in April, 2015.
April 28, in fact. That warm spring day, we’re hosting a roundtable with the American College of Sports Medicine, with some very senior medical leaders.
My contribution to the day is to lead a few walking meetings. I realize that if we walk to the Supreme Court with these senior medical leaders, we’re going to encounter a huge crowd gathered in front of the Court to support marriage equality on this day (see A few photos taken on the way to the future #SCOTUS #LoveMustWin #WalkingMeeting for the whole scene).
I let everyone know the Supreme Court is going to be “busy.”
We go and when we arrive, one of the medical leaders grabs a sign with a heart shaped rainbow and asks me to take his photo. It’s Pat McBride, MD, the Associate Dean of Student Services, at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. We’ve only met a few hours earlier.
In my mind, I transport myself backward in time 20 years, to a place where it’s not only inappropriate to promote equality as a physician, it’s the end of one’s career. It surely was a scary concept at my medical school.
And so, I jokingly/not-jokingly ask, “Is your Dean going to be okay with me tweeting this photo?”
The response: “Yep.”
And so I tweet it. To the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Who favorite it.
The story ends with us walking back to the our meeting room together and the scientific discourse continues. No one seems to have a problem with LGBTQ people, or their need to have the same opportunities afforded to all humans.
This year and century are filled with unexpected demonstrations of kindness in the medical profession and in health, which are gradually wiping away bias.
The world is really changing. It’s learning to love better. You can see it in the photo.
I love this century 🙂 .
That’s a great state of the union.