7/8/15 11 Thoughts

1. Microbiology, virology, developing vaccines and antibiotics, these are all acts of war. What drives me to want to work in these fields are the same patriotic heroic notions that drive young men to war, and the effects can be just as devastating. The only difference is that we view our opponents as nothing more than scourges. What if they do have a conscience that we cannot recognize. I imagine them to exhibit the same tendencies as any life, the propensity to survive, if nothing we could delineate definitively as desire. They may fighting us for their lives, which they certainly are, as our goal is not to win a victory, not for them to surrender, not to live in peace, but to completely wipe them out. We disdain them for everything they are and do, and there is no way for them to tell us that all they want to do is live. How would they? Chemical signals that we simply have to receptors for? What defines conscience? If we met another sentient creature, would we be able to recognize it? Perhaps that’s what we have been fighting all along.

2. Maybe we could eradicate disease, but not really. Why do I say that? Well evolution for one. No matter if we do eradicate all current harmful diseases, the e coli in our gut may very well evolve into the next plague. Assuming they do not have conscience, there is no way they could have the morality to make sure they only act as symbiotic organisms. The other thing is the mystery of the viral world. We really don’t know if they need other viruses to evolve, or if they arise spontaneously from cells. They appear to be little cell fragments that somehow have the ability to reproduce themselves. In this case, it eradicates the whole idea of eradication. It’s like playing whack-a-mole. The third is the moral consideration of eradication itself. Do we feel a moral obligation to preserve organisms whose side-effect of surviving is to harm or kill humanity?

3. It is our duty as humans to continue learning our whole lives. I understand that some people hate school their whole lives, but the learning doesn’t have to be done in schools. It is the DUTY of doctors to educate their patients on the reasons why they do what they do in order that the patients feel more obligated to comply. Take TB medication for instance. Not taking the full dosage for the full amount of time can breed antibiotic resistant TB that not only dooms the patients, but anyone that may contract the disease from them. The explanation is a potent motivator for people to follow instructions assuming they are moral and not apathetic. We are students our whole lives, we have to be in order to survive in today’s evolving world. We cannot stop studying after we find careers, and we cannot afford to believe that we know ‘enough’ to get along in life. We graduate from institutions, but we are STUDENTS OF LIFE for as long as we can draw a breath.

4. Nature is dangerous and beautiful. We have to simultaneously learn to fear it and preserve it. It is like a mother. It is fragile and destructive. What has happened is that we have lost respect for nature. We see it is a resource, or something warm and fuzzy to be lauded in poems. Warm summer nights in the forest, timber ripe for harvest. Neither of these are the solution. We should learn to fear it the way we fear a monarch, with no desire to overthrow it. We must serve it with absolute dedication. We have no other option.

5. I have this selfish desire for the problems I want to solve to not be solved. Let me make sense of this. I want glory, and I dream of it, and some part of me often has to soothe me to bring me back down to earth. Glory is meant for some and not others. Let’s work on more tangible goals Scarlett. Disease is something I am passionate about, and some part of me wants the world to hold on so I can run in and save it. Or at least when I get there, I will have some purpose other than to loiter around trying to cure the common cold. But the more logical, ideological, idealistic part of me just wants these things to be solved, and I will worship whoever does. I guess I just want to find some reason to respect myself. Or really what am I? There are no great heroes in golden ages, only innovators, and I know I am not an innovator or artist. My talent is that I am persistent. I can endure. I can dream, and I can risk my life. I feel I can help a flailing world, not a sailing one. But of course I know, the world in which I am a pathetic useless piece, that is the world we need, and it is up to people like me to work ourselves to the point where the world no longer needs us. That’s why I want to work in organizations like MSF. It should not be their job to go around acting like heroes. In fact, it’s a tragedy because the WHO and other legitimate government organizations SHOULD have done that job. The job of the MSF should be to fill those gaps long enough until they are replaced by legitimate well-regulated organizations with funding to provide the care that should be available to everyone.

6. Why I considered joining the military, was because I wanted to test myself. I know that something has always been calling me to dangerous situations deep in my gut, but my mind was yelling at me it was a horrible idea. So I wanted to test myself. The reasons I didn’t go included my parents, who would never have let their precious daughter go to war, the same reason why they would never let their precious daughter marry a woman. That those reasons collude is pretty fucked up. Anyway, the other was that I feel like I would come back jaded by the hierarchy there. I would see what I wanted to see, sure. But I would not have the freedom to act as I wanted. Some small part of me still regrets not going. The bubble that Stanford is will give me a phenomenal education and research opportunities I am sure. But while I am feeding my mind, will I let my soul languish? Will there be enough sustenance to sustain the spiritual hunger inside me? I do not want to walk into a situation I am not prepared for and be too scared to act. I want to live a full life, but I am afraid of fuck-ups. What kind of human is that? What kind of life is that? To live in fear? It is not too late to do something crazy after undergrad. If I take good care of myself, I still have time. But I don’t have forever. Time is never on anyone’s side. If anyone would give a person one wish, I have heard various replies. Things like world peace, a cure for cancer, and cure for AIDS, wealth, and eternal life, and eternal youth. I would probably ask for some combination of the latter two. I know it is selfish. It is not as though I have some inherent desire to breathe for an eternity. It is that I really do love our world, with all it’s problems, and I don’t want to have the excuse “Oh I’ll be dead so why do I care.” I want to treat environmentalism, antibiotic resistance, human rights, all these issues personally. I want them to be MY problem forever.

7. I’ve always wanted to save those “poor children in Africa” that people always talk about. And I truly feel guilty about that. Especially hearing so many people from Africa decry those commercials on television. But I am an emotional person, and I want to help them. I am drawn to people who genuinely ask for my help because they need it. Maybe they do not need it, or are too proud to ask for help. Pride is a disease only life can cure. I want to help them the same way I would want someone to help me if I were in their position. As much pride as I have, I want to be taken care of as well. I want to feel loved. I believe everyone deserves that. I am drawn to suffering people and strong people. The former as a caretaker, and the latter as a disciple. But I refuse to be weak.

8. I am plagued with a strange sense of narcissism. I love everything about myself, even the fucked up parts. Ok, maybe not everything. I don’t like my laziness. I really wish I could just wipe that and my need for rest and my propensity for boredom right off the face of the planet. But I never hate my thoughts, no matter how horrible they are. Sometimes I wish certain people could be killed, or revived. I might contradict myself in later thoughts, but I never come to hate these thoughts, no matter how contrary to standards they may be. I cannot help but love myself. But on the flip side of the coin, I also expect that the world love me as much as I love myself. This is where the intense cognitive dissonance comes in. I know that my traits according to society standards do not deserve respect, and so I hate those traits and thoughts, but I don’t. Do you know what I mean? I hate that they do not bring me respect, but because the idea of deserving respect is separate for my love of myself, and I do not receive respect, I hate myself. And that is the essence of my lack of self-esteem. It is not that I do not love myself, it is that I hate that other people do not love me, and I am helpless to change it. Yet I do not want to do what would bring me respect. Those superficial acts are not within the scope of my interest, and some of which I disdain. But I cannot bring myself to completely disregard my public image. I empathize far too easily, and when I step into their shoes and see myself in their eyes, I am disgusted. So I cannot speak. Nothing comes from between my lips, even though my mind seems to be boiling over. I fear that we truly are just incompatible people. That I cannot understand them, no matter what I say. That thought we speak the same language, the words and phrases do not mean the same things at all. That comes back to my narcissism. I believe that if I could communicate myself properly, I could bring people to see me as I see myself. So far, I cannot say I have accomplished that with anyone at all.

9. There exists a delicate balance between alarm and overreaction. I wish I could speak more to it. First it requires me to enter the real world.

10. I have always had problems speaking with people. I have delineated some reasons for this earlier, mostly having to do with personal image. Another is lack of things to talk about. I hate calling meetings with people for fear we will not have enough common points of discussion to talk at all. Nothing can be worse for me than a short meeting without substance. Everyone must have a sense of purpose and urgency. That is partially why I dislike open question-asking. I never have any questions prepared. But I imagine that work meetings are completely different. I want to be able to call up people whose help I need. I want to convince them to help me with pressing issues that matter in the world. I cannot imagine that they would have nothing to say in such a situation. In that way, they will not be looking at that conversation as a reflection of me. The issue at hand is much more important than who is speaking. That is the type of conversation I love.

11. One of the interesting concepts of humanity is that of progress. We believe that science and thought and health is progress. The general definition of progress being better for humans, happier, more convenient. Essentially change that pleased us is viewed as progress. But now, we have begin to realize the hard lesson that our world is not linear. Let me propose a cyclical theory of progress. Progress is change. But our world is made up of so many moving parts that everything is constantly changing and in flux. This cannot be denied. Now see humanity as one variable (I realize this is not an accurate representation, but it is simpler to describe it this way). If humanity suddenly springs up, sure it will take a bit for the rest to catch up in change, but sure as the sun sets they will. That is the situation we are facing with medicine. With the advent of antibiotics, vaccines, breakthrough after breakthrough, we began to believe as a frontrunner in a race that we are so far ahead, we would never again be caught. But we forgot that the winner is not determined as long as there are other racers and the finish line is not crossed. And in our world, there is no finish line that we know of. Therefore the immediate future cannot be seen as one of eradication, but of continuous warfare. Sometimes we will be in more dire straights than others, but we can never stop fighting. For as we know in a race, the surest way to lose one is to quit. Though our world is a delicate balance, a homeostasis if you will, the world doesn’t NEED humanity. The capacity for the world to adapt is more than us. So if we want to live, we better work with this world to mould everything in this world so everything we do is sustainable in terms of resources and efforts. Our intellect is what we believe gives us an edge over other organisms, like evolution but more rapid. But we must realize that it is certainly not superior to evolution. If we are complacent, surely we will be overtaken and knocked out. We must continue to evolve. The world is constantly changing, and I highly doubt that a day will not come that we face an environmental condition we cannot research fast enough for in order to survive. We are so counter people dying, we cannot physically evolve. But the bottom line is that we have to be careful about that ingrained notion as well.

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