A Message from Suber S. Huang ~
Dear colleagues and friends -
It's said that pressure produces diamonds. Whether in the world of sport, over the chessboard, on the stage, or in the operating theater, pressure reveals the true nature of an opponent or of one's self. The current COVID-19 crisis has revealed both.
There have been acts of selflessness, compassion, and courage to the point of exhaustion. My son is an intern in Internal Medicine in New York where they are running out of protective equipment. They are not sleeping much, face daily decisions about who will receive ventilator assistance, who will reuse masks, and covering for each other when it just becomes too much. Ophthalmology colleagues, whose practices have closed, have volunteered to serve shifts on the front line without personal gain and with risk to their own health. And there are those epidemiologists, virologists, scientists, nurses, pharmacists, first responders, service personnel of every stripe, and concerned citizens that fight the fight, keep us fed, keep us safe, and who heed recommendations to stay home so that others may live. These and countless other people show us what it means to work together for public health, a safer society, and the greater good. These people are diamonds whose light gives us energy, inspiration, courage, and hope.
These extraordinary events have also revealed individuals who seek to assign blame, to foster political unrest, and to foment racism. Anxiety is real and difficult to resist. It is deeply concerning to hear of individuals whose voice is used to denigrate others, to share rumor, incite fear, and to do harm in ways large and visible as well as in small, insidious, and invisible ways much as the SARS-CoV-2 virus has done. Coal is the by-product of living things long-perished. Coal can be used to better lives, or it can fester, burning and soiling its environment. Whether in the public forum of social media or via microscopic insults, racism and xenophobia have no place in a world seeking to thrive.
As physicians, we have an obligation to be diamonds shining our brightest when the pressure is most intense. I hope that we will seek common platforms to build trust for our patients and to better our world, to find ways to collaborate and share our wisdom, resources, and dreams, and to serve others always. Let's point the finger at ourselves and ask what more can we do to help. The great diseases of history, TB, smallpox, polio, influenza, and so many others didn't care about nationality, gender, religion, economic status, or politics. Neither should we.
We have all been given an opportunity to shine like diamonds... or die trying.