Something More

Messages of discouragement seem all too common, and have a common source. Encouraging messages must be pursued, especially examples of those who have persisted and have overcome.

Outstanding work often involves reconciling the actual conditions of people with the expectations of a nation or the principles that it was founded upon. There are common connections between this work, those whose outstanding contributions have been recognized by the world, and among the various women who have been recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize. At a time when the status of women and the well being of children and the existence of civilized society are under attack, it is important to find the encouraging messages of these incredible individuals.

Awareness is considered a curse, and writers and thinkers may have it worse than most. Awareness of difficult situations that involves direct contact with people is often considered risky or discouraging or overwhelming. However there are few sources of greater encouragement, as this author found when visiting Haiti and as these women found in the day to day work with oppressed peoples. In the media of today and in various meetings, it is often difficult to find encouragement, but it is there. In fact one of the primary reasons for discouragement is that people have less and less direct contact such that they may believe only what they see on the media rather than what they see in person.

Recent direct contacts with colleagues in South Africa and East Africa at the Rural WONCA meeting (rural FPs worldwide) helped reverse some of these impressions. To view the media, these are areas facing overwhelming challenges, however more is going on.

There is a very upbeat attitude from unexpected quarters, especially from those in Africa facing the greatest challenges in health care. In South Africa, Kenya, and other nations, changes in government and in entire nations have been accomplished by dedicated people willing to sacrifice much using peaceful means and embarrassment othe point of clear national support for change. The role of women, and now entire countries realizing that the status of women and children and the environment are important for best national outcomes, is hugely encouraging. NPR captures this spirit: Kenyan environmental activist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has been awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. Currently the deputy environment minister of Kenya, Maathai was praised by the committee "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace." http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4077230  as one of the first east African females to gain even a basic education, it is fitting that she is the first to win a Nobel prize. But there is much more to Dr. Maathai than accomplishing superficial changes in landscapes.

In this nation we are hunting down hate crimes from 30 years ago. Although it can be argued that this should have been done long ago, one would have to wonder whether this will help the nation move on or whether this will result in huge costs and distractions away from real investments in children and opportunity that would help the nation to a new future. In South Africa, abusers stand in front of those that they abused, admit their abuses, often gain forgiveness, and the nation moves on. This is also a proposal in Afghanistan currently. The list of those with such a view is long and impressive.

Lincoln had a different view of reconstruction of the South, but was not around to implement it. Others such as Martin Luther King have had a different view and also did not get to remain around to share Something More, but somehow their words and example succeed beyond their lofty dreams.  "One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love....What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This brings up the question, what is real love, appropriate use of power, or real justice? Those that are something more, have much to offer

Charles Colson's column adds more with A Tale of Two Servants: Amazing Grace and Breach "Hanssen's story is a cautionary tale of the dangers of failing to combine orthodoxy (that is, right belief) with orthopraxy (that is, right action). Biographer David A. Vise says about Hanssen, "He was a compartmentalizer. How else could he be married and a father and go to church every day and, at the same time, commit treason?" " Colson suggested a viewing of Breach followed by Amazing Grace. In the first Hanssen is opened as deeply religious with right belief but a compartmentalized life that leads to wrong action. He notes "The juxtaposition of Hanssen and Wilberforce will startle you. Unlike Hanssen, Wilberforce knew that real Christianity puts beliefs into action—and that any failure to live our Christian convictions is an intolerable breach of trust with our rightful Sovereign. Wilberforce faced overwhelming obstacles and prevailed with the eventual end of slavery, with eventual impact on the US. The changed UK that resulted was far less willing to assist the South in the Civil War. The efforts that last have a common ground and are a testament to something more.

Each of those noted above, were driven by a recognition that Something More was required. At risk was Something More. Those who compromise by offering a false version of something more, a limited version, a version that results in injustice or oppression, or a version that does not involve the highest degrees of Love possible, do not have Something More.

Leaders today at all levels face the same challenges, what are their beliefs (religious or otherwise), and do their actions reveal consistency with their beliefs. Startling things happen when people are chosen or elected for their beliefs, and then their actions reveal otherwise.

What is real love? What is appropriate use of authority? What is real justice? Do we distract our nation or lead it effectively? This is a question for all professionals.

This is a good week. One of my web sites has been used to develop a scholarship for pharmacy students and encouragement to native peoples, from one of their own http://www.unmc.edu/Community/ruralmeded/susan_la_flesche_picotte.htm  without her efforts, without the various government supported sites that preserved her efforts and those of her family, and without the support of the State of Nebraska to work with tribal teens, this site would not have existed. The story of Dr. Picotte, her brother, and her family is one of the most remarkable and encouraging stories of all. It is a testament to the existence of what we call family medicine, community health, long before 1970. it is also a testament to something more. This is also the second time that Dr. Picotte has been encouraging to me personally through her work long ago. The more I learn about her, the more she fits among the Nobel Prize winners listed below, who fought the same battles regarding the status of women and children and the inconsistencies of their treatment given what "civilized society" should do. In my publication the Community Driven Approach: The Rural Component  Dr. Picotte was suggested as the role model for this approach.

Another major reason for this site is that various books were important to me in becoming interested in medicine - Stories of Great Physicians by Raymond F. Jones was a Whitman book with a 1963 date. That dates me as about 9 or 10 years old reading it. It still sits above my computer now. I don't read it anymore because the stories are in my heart.

It is also my hope that more authors write about Dr. Picotte so that next time I meet up with 13 year old Omaha or Winnebago youth in health fairs, they know about her and not just her family name.

I have more motivation for this effort. In my research I have found no higher choice of rural and underserved locations beyond Native American female family physicians, especially those born in rural areas.

Defeated attitudes are all too common in those who do not have something more. Some religions teach that there is no point to Something More, since fates are all determined. This is why those that were meeting Cambodian refugees are those with Something More.

Some claim to have "something more" as in prosperity gospels or promises of "family values" or promises of future rewards in the planets or skies or a return to a better time years or centuries ago or even a return to a better human existence in a future life, but there is something more than this offering. What they have learned is that claiming to have something more always attracts human attention, and lives, and souls.

The common thread of the different heroes represented above is a true Something More. It is something that is part of them, undeniable, and it exudes out of their very being.

In the NPR interview, it leaps out of Dr. Maathai. When asked what the poor people of Kenya need, she relates the story of Peter's encounter at Acts III at the gates of the temple, where Peter meets the lame man’s request for alms with something more. Something more gives him healing of body, mind, and soul. Dr. Maathai herself is an example of something more, for Kenya and for the entire world, especially this author in need of encouragement.

Martin Luther King had something more, as did his namesake, Martin Luther.

William Wilberforce had that something more. When those combating slavery were at their weakest point, John Wesley reminded him that they were Something More. Something more is what happens when only Something More can make the difference.

Picotte had something more. She was not only the first Native female physician in the nation. She was a member of her tribe with a footing inside and outside and caught between. She desired to help her brother and tribe directly in need of help, but she needed to complete her training. As a missionary to her own tribe, she constantly translated the real intent of Christianity to those who had suffered at the hands of professed Christians. She fought the slavery of alcohol and dependency that was brought to bear against her own family. She fought physical disease and the disease of discouragement even as her own physical condition took her energy, her health, and her life. Susan La Flesche Picotte

Without something more, we cannot long survive. With something more, there is no fear.

Those who claim to have Something More, but do not are often the greatest obstacle to those who truly are pursuing Something More.

Something More is readily apparent in many who have won great human recognition such as Nobel Prizes, prizes that cannot be actually sought and obtained by individual pursuit. Those that have Something More are recognized and recognizable. What is often hard to figure out is whether the Something More is them, their work, the work of those around them, or the correction of a great wrong where a false version of Something More is held up as Something More.

Those who have something more, always seem to have something more to offer.

Robert C. Bowman, M.D.
rbowman@unmc.edu

Female Nobel Prize winners

Jane Addams 1931 few have focused on the status of women and children as much

Emily Greene Balch 1946  also a key contributor to disarmament efforts but also focused on women and children

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan 1976  Founders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement, together with changes in South Africa, the two most remarkable restorative efforts in recent decades.

Mother Theresa 1979

Alva Myrdal 1982  disarmament efforts

Aung San Suu Kyi 1991 "for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights" - remains in a most difficult situation

Rigoberta Menchu Tum 1992 "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples"

Jody Williams 1997   banning and clearing anti-personnel mines

Shirin Abadi 2003   "for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children."

Wangari Muta Maathai 2004  "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace"

Community Driven Approach: Linking Resources with True Needs

Topics and Essays

www.ruralmedicaleducation.org

 

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