I want to talk about people who throughout this year have treated you badly, who may have wronged you or ignored you, those people who only seem to remember your name when they need something or want to ask you ridic questions in front of large groups. At some point this year, maybe this week, you were not treated with kindness and mercy and grace and humility, but with anger and frustration and fear and dare I say even malice.
I was recounting to my doctoring group this evening that emphatically these people should step on a lego. No doubt. Being anything less than gracious and kind and respectful to our fellow human beings isn’t how we should be treating each other, seeing how short human lives are and stuff. Ironic that in a hospital (a building which sees death on a daily basis) we should forget this fact. So after a frustrating day attempting to interact with the most type A-e-ist of type A people (who just want to break off the tip of the A and stab you in the eye with it), I was really having fun thinking about how karma will smite them and how I’d like to give them a piece of my mind (theoretically that is).
But then I got home, carrying a fresh bunch of daffodils Emilie got for me. I took a shower, I put on clean pajamas, I sang along to Tale as Old as Time and curled up in bed with a new book by my favorite author Anne Lamott (or St. Anne as I like to call her). I thumb through the first pages and it reads; “Mercy means that we soften ever so slightly, so that we don’t have to condemn others for being total sh*ts, although they may be that, (okay: are)….Kindness toward others and radical kindness to ourselves buy us a shot at a warm and generous heart, which is the greatest prize of all.” Dammit. I’m so screwed. I don’t feel like being merciful or kind to people who make me and my friends feel bad. I’m just not that mature. And I doubt that these people will know or care that I have softened my heart towards them, or dare I say forgiven them for being wrong, for being rude, for being mean, for using their power to belittle instead of lift up, they were wrong and I want justice. Justice I say.
As I type this, I am reminded of two things. #1: I have been so very undeserving of the mercy and forgiveness others have granted me in my life. And so very grateful that I have crossed paths with lovely, kind people who say in spite of my mistakes, in spite of being rude and self-centered and lazy and dumb, that they still love me, still think I’m okay and the biggest gift of all is their forgiveness and forget-y-ness of my messy interpretation of what it means to be human. Thanks. Thing #2: I am reminded of an 83 year old real estate agent from Terre Haute, Indiana. Her name is Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of medical experimentation in a concentration camp at the hands of Dr. Mengele—a Nazi doctor conducting “research” under the name of the Max Planck Institute. Eva lost her entire family during the Holocaust and was very nearly killed herself. Eva came into the public eye when she announced that she forgave Dr. Mengele for what he did to her and her family. She issued a written statement of forgiveness to the Planck Institute and was featured in a documentary about her choice entitled, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele.” (Netflix it, its amazing). Her decision to forgive shocked a lot of people and actually upset a great many in the Jewish community who believe that the Holocaust is unforgivable. I can’t disagree with them, but Eva explained that she decided to forgive Mengele for her benefit, not for his. You go girl.
Don’t worry, I’m not trying to compare WWII or Hitler to being treated like crap on a rotation. My point is, that if Eva can soften her heart against the war crimes and human rights abuses that were committed against her– then I guess I can forgive the people that were mean and rude and ignored me. I guess I’ll work on it anyway, not for their benefit, but for my own.
So dearest fellow human beings–wherever you are–who have been rude and mean and unkind. I forgive you. I know you could have done better. We all can try to do a little better—even me. What do you say we chalk this one up to life eh? Our very precious, way too short, beautiful-in-spite-of-everything life. My daffodils remind me that spring is coming. And my calendar reminds me that there are two weeks left in this rotation. And my heart…well it reminds me what love and forgiveness feel like. I guess its starting to soften it just a little.
Fiona Scott, UC Davis School of Medicine
Medical school is tough, even tougher is residency. sometimes we need to hear that voice of inspiration and excitement we carried before entering the journey.
The goal of WhiteCoated is to allow medical students and residents to contribute anything ranging from art to articles to podcasts that help others learn more about the field or rediscover their passion with the goals of bettering themselves and thus enhancing the care of their patients.