“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”
—Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
I haven’t been able to sleep lately and it has nothing to do with the humidity. I am filled with rage and despair. No matter how hard I close my eyes I cannot unsee the widely reported atrocities against migrants and their children at the US-Mexican border. This is not fake news, the latest trend in propaganda and misinformation. This is abuse of power and violation of human rights and it goes against everything that doctors stand for.
In Syria, Yemen, Turkey, Myanmar, South Sudan, and Mexico (to name a few), conflict causes millions to suffer. At home, Canada has our own colonial history of residential schools and mass discrimination.
In the midst of such horrors, what can one person, one doctor do? Thankfully, we are not alone. We are part of a proud profession, one that has an opportunity to use our status and experience and influence to advocate for social justice.
We can call for action. While our words may not fully penetrate the wall of injustice, they may create a space for others to know that they are not alone in their concern. In doing so, we will move away from our own inherent tribalism and towards shared morals. By speaking with a common voice, united as a profession against tyranny, we can do what we have been trained for: inherently valuing every person and every life. We can welcome diversity and promote inclusion in order to combat the dehumanization that genocidal regimes use to turn neighbour against neighbour.
Maybe it’s a letter or a blog or a tweet. Maybe it’s a sign in our waiting rooms showing that we will help all who seek our care. Maybe it’s an extra Paw Patrol sticker offered to the little girl playing shyly in the waiting room while her parents and I make a plan for their healing journey. Maybe it’s a donation to an organization protecting human rights. Or maybe it’s just the way that we treat each other with civility and respect. Only by fulfilling our potential as leaders can we address the injustices prevalent today.
So, as difficult as it may be, let us not turn our eyes away, but rather look inside ourselves and identify what each of us can do to promote a better world for us all. Let us turn our anger into action. Far more than my next night’s sleep depends on it.
Eric Cadesky MDCM CCFP FCFP
President, Doctors of BC