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Monday, November 30, 2015

Republic by Plato (380 BC)

I have been reading Ancient Philosophers with my youngest son this semester, and I have discovered that there is a very good reason that I have not read any of them prior to now.  I have absolutely no idea what they are saying, for the most part.
Luckily for my son, he is in a class and has a wonderful professor who has boundless enthusiasm for her subject matter and for teaching, but I am largely not benefiting from any of that.  So foe me, I am left to struggle with the material and hope that I can glean a thing or two from it.
The Republic is one of Plato's great works, one where his own philosophy and world view emerge from behind Socrates, the philosopher he is often writing about.  Plato has some very good ideas in The Republic, whereby he thinks that great differences in wealth are not good for society, and that everyone should have an education and a role to play.  The bad news is that he is pretty much a complete fascist about who can do what, structuring a strict class system, eliminating the role of the family, and instituting  a book ban that is more strict than any I have ever heard--and sacrilegious to boot.  Quite a shocking book, all in all. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Think About Your Words

I have been a health care worker for over 30 years and I am the parent of a childhood cancer survivor, so I have had the experience of being on both sides of the health care system prior to being diagnosed with cancer myself a couple of months ago.  During a recent hospitalization for a particularly scary and unexpected event, I noticed that we health care workers are at times a little unduly cheerful to patients who are facing things that are quite sobering.
It is all done with the best of intentions, there is no question about that.  Hospital employees come to the hospital everyday, it is their work place.  They bring their natural good will with them to work, and they very much wish the best for every patient who comes through the door.  But sometimes the wording of those best wishes could be a bit more reflective of what is actually happening to the patient. "Have a great day." might really not be in the cards for some patients, and something along the lines of I hope that you experience some relief of what brought you here" or "I hope things are better for you today and that you might be well enough to go home soon" are more appropriate.  I am very guilty of this cheer, and will have to watch myself in the future.

Saturday, November 28, 2015