I’ve been trying to think about what I really care about, and it seems to always come back to the same thing: equality. It makes my blood boil when I hear about people being treated less then equals to others just because of their race, ethnicity, religion, beliefs or even their gender. For the life of me, I just can’t understand why, as humans, we must always fight with each other if we don’t agree with something that has nothing to do with ourselves? We have all been living on the same planet for thousands of years, and in all that time we have yet to understand this simple understanding of equality and peace with each other. And I just can’t comprehend why that is. Someone’s religion doesn’t define who you are. Someone’s gender doesn’t define who you are. Someone’s culture or ethnicity doesn’t define who you are. Someone else’s beliefs don’t define who you are. So why are you trying to act like that person isn’t equal to you, for those reasons? The world needs to wake up and realize that we ARE ALL EQUAL. Whether you like it or not, that’s the truth. So, stop acting like we aren’t. Once we, as a society decide to accept the FACT that everyone is equal, so matter their differences, then, and only then, will we be able to start down the path to peace.
Food for thought.
While I was exploring the “7 billion others project”, I came across so many different people from all over the world. Each person talks about their lives and what life, love, happiness, family and many other things mean to them. I found it completely fascinating, because as a society, I think that we too often get caught up in the rush of our everyday lives, and we don’t stop to think that there are other people all around the world, from different countries and cultures; and we don’t think about how even the smallest action we do could affect them. While I was browsing the 7 Billion Others website, I came a across a man named Maremba, from Papa new Guinea. And as I was listening to this man tell his story, I became heart broken. Maremba is a man from a tribe in Papa New Guinea, and he says he doesn’t know his true age, but thinks he is about 59 years old. He talks about how his tribe and his culture are very important to him, and that all he wants, is to be able to teach his culture to his children, and his people, in hopes that his culture will continue to live on. But unfortunately, missionaries have come in and tried to put a stop to and modernize his culture, because to them, Marembas’ ways, are “the way of the devil”. Because of this the culture of Marembas’ people is slowly fading, and his children have been sent away to the city to live the way that society sees “fit”. This saddens me deeply, because people are going into places and practically forcing them to change their ways, and even their culture just to satisfy what they think is the “right way” to live. And the truth of the matter is that it’s wrong for us to do that to each other. We as humans need to realize that all people are different, and that people do, and will have different beliefs. And we can’t just invade other peoples lives, to try and change the way that they are living just because it doesn’t match up to our own personal standards. We need to be able to teach acceptance and understanding to all people, religions, and cultures of the world. Because if not we will loose them forever.
After reading “Trapped”, a personal narrative by Sarah Gilbert, I took a moment to step back and process everything she talked about. Sarah tells her story about how people are trapped in their own anger, shame, fear of loss, and most importantly the ethical rules, or traps, made by society; and because of this anger, people lash out at her, just because of the way she chooses to live her life. Sarah doesn’t own a car, so her and her children get everywhere by bike. I found her story incredibly compelling and relevant to todays society, but I ask the question, could Sarah Gilbert’s personal narrative lead to change? Unfortunately I don’t think so. Today its so hard to motivate people to make a real change in society. Even after reading her narrative, I thought of the many things I could do to change my own ways, but ultimately came to the conclusion that it would be to hard, or that I don’t care that much about the certain issue. And that’s the issue with it. People are so wrapped up in their own social world that they lack the internal empathy and realization to care about a problem unless it is immediately affecting them in that moment. And that’s the problem, people don’t care enough about things, to change their comfortable way of living. In order for something to really make an impact and create change, we first have to make people really care about something. And that’s the hard part.
Robert Krulwich talks about how narrative, or story telling, can help people to understand and accept science, and therefore create a better more open-minded community with the public. But Rita Charon talks about how narrative is not only good on a societal scale, but also on a smaller, more personal scale as well. Charon talks about how doctors and patients sharing narratives with each other, allows them to create a more emotional bond that allows each person to gain a sense of peace and healing; not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well.
After reading “Narrative Medicine: A Model for Empathy, Reflection, Profession, and Trust” by Rita Charon, I wanted to be able to answer the question “Why does narrative matter?”; and as I was reading this article I came across a quote that really spoke to me about this. Charon states, “Narrative writing by students and physicians has become a staple in many medical schools and hospitals to strengthen reflection, self-awareness, and the adoption of patients’ perspectives.” This stood out to me because as I read this quote, I realized that narrative allows a physician to see their patient as an actual person who is suffering, and living through this illness, and not just as a diagnosis. As a person who has lived through a life threating illness, I was in this same situation. Before I was officially diagnosed, I felt as if I was looked at by all these different doctors as a diagnosis on paper, and not an actual human being who was living and suffering through this illness. It wasn’t until I actually had a single doctor who sat back and allowed me to tell my story, did I feel like I was real; like what I was living through wasn’t just a made up thing in my head, or a classroom experiment. Narrative matters because patients who are suffering deserve their dignity. They deserve to feel like a real person who matters, and Charon shows how narrative medicine can accomplish that.
This brings me to my second point. In Radio Lab: “Tell me a story” , Robert Krulwich talks about how narrative, or more specifically, telling a story, allows a scientist to connect and enlighten the average person. Krulwich says “So yes, science stories don’t always win. But at the least it should be a tug of war. And if you tell them right, they have the power to change minds.” Krulwich encourages scientists to tell their stories not complexly, but in a way that everyone can understand, because he believes that we have to protect the knowledge we have given and spread it to those who do not have the opportunity to learn it, so that way we can evolve society’s way of thinking, and make a more enlightened world.