Merigian Studios


The Rising Stone

There are many different ways to interpret the U.S. election results. As I write this blog, mainstream media named Joseph Biden President of the United States. If anyone has not realized yet, I am a proud Democrat. I am proud of our American electorate coming out in the worst Pandemic of our modern era and voting in greater numbers than any other U.S. election in history. Unfortunately, the divisions in our communities and our country have become more profound and widespread than ever.

My wife is active on Facebook. She spends a fair amount of time communicating with people from all over the nation. After the mainstream news networks called the election for Biden/Harris, people posted extreme hate on her wall. People are stating they will fight for their America with guns if necessary. They posted that Democrats are pedophiles, baby killers, socialists, cannibals, against law and order, rapists, anti-family values, whores, and barbaric heathens. I am not surprised by their rhetoric. I am discouraged by their close-mindedness.

In my opinion, President Trump has failed the government in many ways. He is a President for forty percent of the population. He rides roughshod over the remaining sixty percent of us who disagree with his demonization of immigrants, non-Caucasoid people, gays, lesbians, queers, and Democrats like me who are fiscally conservative and left-leaning in our politics. He has no compassion for the disenfranchised; he has failed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in any meaningful way. He has shown no empathy for those families whose loved ones have died due to coronavirus infection; he has continuously misrepresented the truth about his accomplishments in office.

During my graduation from medical school, I took a vow to practice medicine. More often, medical schools require physicians to cite variations of the Hippocratic oath upon graduation. I believe the original Hippocratic oath is:

            I swear by Apollo Healer, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.

            To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the Healer’s oath, but to nobody else.

            I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not  use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.

            Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or womanbond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course  of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.

            Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I break it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.

A more modern rendition is:

            I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

            I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

            I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

            I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

            I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

            I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with  great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

            I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

            I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

            I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

            If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and  remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

The Oath of Maimonides is recited by several medical school students and pharmacy students at graduation:

The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. May the love for my art actuate me at all times; may         neither avarice nor miserliness, nor thirst for glory or for a great reputation engage my mind; for the enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily deceive me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to Thy children.

            May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain.

            Grant me the strength, time and opportunity always to correct what I have acquired, always to extend its domain; for knowledge is immense and the spirit of man can extend indefinitely to enrich itself daily with new requirements. Today he can discover his errors of yesterday and tomorrow he can obtain a new light on what he thinks himself sure of today.

            Oh, God, Thou has appointed me to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures; here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn unto my calling.

In all of these oaths, and many more is the absence of reference to race, creed, color, political persuasion, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or philosophy as a criterion to care or not to care for the infirm. Society expects physicians to care for anyone who comes their way, regardless of their own beliefs and the conflicts which arise with their patients. When I worked in the emergency department, I withheld blood transfusions from Jehovah's Witness patients because of their religious commitments. The public expects doctors to be vanilla, seldom having opinions about politics or religion since they take an oath to help everyone. I think we have a duty to help each other as much as each of us helps ourselves. Doctors put their personal views aside, just as Supreme Court Justices.

The Biden/Harris ticket seemed to share the same open understanding that all citizens should benefit from prosperity, not just those who have been born to it. I was fortunate to have many people help me in my journey to becoming a doctor. In a discussion with a patient recently, I heard him tell me that he felt the U.S. government should not administer or guarantee educational student loans. I told him that without those school loans, I could not have attended medical school. With ice in his eyes, he stated, “Maybe you shouldn’t have gone to medical school if you couldn’t have afforded it.” I looked at him with sadness.

It was clear that he meant that I should accept my lot in life if my family were poor. His brutal honesty revealed that the need for our U.S. government to help the disenfranchised goes beyond their impoverishments. If someone was born destitute, my America should do what it can to help them rise out of the morass of poverty. I built swimming pools and pole barns to earn money while in medical school, but it was not enough to satisfy the bills. This patient joined the military and ended up with VA benefits secondary to injury while enlisted. I pointed out to him that those benefits were a form of socialism. He agreed that citizens might appropriately view his military benefits as such. Still, he refused to agree that the government should stop paying them, but he would never agree to allow students to go to school on loans backed by our U.S. government. It should not surprise anyone that the patient thought that the Internal Revenue Service should be abolished, stating that taxes should be voluntary like tithes in churches. One man’s socialism is another man’s gain.

Our country has a long way to go. We do not deny care to those patients who refuse to wear a mask to prevent COVID-19 and end up on a ventilator. We take care of those who smoke and suffer from cigarette associated cancer and heart disease. I have revived many heroin addicts who overdosed and were comatose or near death. I have a tough time with people stating that God ordained president Trump, but Evil created Presidents Biden and Obama from the devil’s spawn. To dehumanize a political party and its leaders based on religious enlightenment is mere ignorance in the first order. Those who eat a dozen donuts in the morning for breakfast and cannot control their Type 1 Diabetes have more standing with me.

There are extremists in every walk of life, especially in politics. I am observing a shift from extremism to a rising paramilitary political warfare by white Christian nationalists against the natural unfoldments of pluralistic social change. Several brands of the Protestant religion have devolved openly to the post-civil-war era. The abolitionist movement in the mid-1800s did not eradicate right-wing Evangelical white populism; it just freed slaves. Fredrick Douglas was keenly aware of Protestant denominations' reunification after the war, warning of the inherent racism built into church authorities' hierarchy and white privilege. President Trump tapped into the fever of these racist and xenophobic leaders, and magically, the movement of making America great again appeared out of thin air. The sixties and seventies were not so great to me; my family and my wife’s family struggled through them. I am sure I am not alone.

There is a rising in the Plains. The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters, the Light Foot Militia, the Civilian Defense Force, the American Contingency, Patriot Prayers, Boogaloo Bois, and People’s Rights/Bundy Ranch are some of the eighty-plus militia groups engaging in activities around the U.S. Their’s is a distorted view of freedom and liberty in our country.  Freedom, the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action, and liberty, the quality or state of being free, are, for the most part, enjoyed by our citizens. Let’s keep it that way before it becomes too late.

There is a rising.


Posted by Caitlin Chittom at 10:05 AM
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