Palimpsest Blinders: Life in Modern Times
Palimpsest is an elegant term that refers to layered, used in its original sense as layered in ancient manuscripts: original text layered with new writing on top of it.
I have usually instructed physicians training under me that you have to have blinders on when doing research so as not to get distracted by criticism or attempts to stop what you are doing (mainly by individuals who are jealous of your accomplishments and will try anything to stop it from continuing). But these blinders now need to be layered, multiple focused layers of blinders to a number of unfortunate realities that confront our sense of decency and which (attempt to) confound our attempts to get positive things done. The blinders we now have to put on, with individual layers blocking out various outrages we have to sublimate in order to maintain our focus and to get things done: whether it be raising children, being responsible at work, doing research, standing up for justice, etc. Whatever positive things we want to do in our lives.
There are so many bad things going on in the world. At some level it is important to pay attention to them, and to recognize right from wrong, but unfortunately for many of these important causes we cannot be consumed by them- unless those causes are part of our central core.
So most of us must wear palimpsest individual blinders to block or atleast dampen all the various serious misconducts, hypocrisies, lying, that surround us and could engulf us. I personally strive for wisdom-sense, opposing hypocrisy, lying, cheating, 'true' criminal activity, taking advantage of circumstances.
For me the top 4 most important things, in descending order: survival of the planet, too much pollution, too many people on the planet, and the massacre of the innocents. Abortion is a difficult topic, ultimately I believe it is the woman's right to chose - so I do not place that in the massacre category. I understand it is a difficult topic.
What I do place in the category of massacre of the innocents is gross medical misconduct that results in permanent physical or mental injury or death.
But we have to chose our battles based on our strengths.
Using my example: I have to have a Palimpsest blinder set for critics in the medical establishment who chose to deny Gadolinium Deposition Disease and think it is some nefarious attempt to ruin everything good in life (I had to wear, and still do, a separate set for speaking up on risks of medical radiation and excess imaging); and incredibly enough another pair for GDD sufferers who somehow think that I am not doing something right; I have to wear other blinders for hypocrites, liars and cowards who chose to cover up gross medical misconduct ( I forgive somewhat the cowards); probably if the victims knew I was standing up for them , some would also find some reason to think I was doing something wrong so I would need a pair for them; I have to wear blinders on for the current greatest evil in the world, the events in the Ukraine; then the incredible lying, hypocrisy, and sycophancy in national US politics; my major disagreements with US health care system; US medical insurance; constitution amendments; the political and biased nature of the US courts; crazy dictators; crazy theocracies; unchecked garbage being shipped around the world and being burned in pristine jungle settings; the incredible stupidity of many humans (maybe this last encompassing everything above). Trying to fight all these battles would result in accomplishing nothing but self-destruction.
Here are simple solutions to two major issues in the US:
1) all medical experts should be agents of the court, and not of opposing legal teams..
2) supreme court justices should have term limits of 12 years, and since we have a two party system, the two parties chose a replacement judge alternately, so the circumstance of a completely lop-sided bias of the court in either too conservative or too liberal a position is avoided. The denying of one supreme court judge for one president, and then the next president of the other party picking 3 judges in one term, is a recipe for the disaster we are in and will be in for years/decades to come. Each party selects alternating their choice of judges, still has to be ratified by the majority of senators ( but they have to understand they have to agree to one of the opposition's picks when it the opposition's turn) and they have 12 year terms. That problem solved.
Neither of these wisdom-sense things are likely to occur any time soon - so I have to live with that. I am not in a position to impact them- well maybe I can a little with medical experts.
I find it a little funny, but not unexpected, that it appears the only individuals with political courage in the US political scene are 20- 30 year old women, This is the same group fighting in Iran. They have their vision focused on what they can do to make society better. The old men in these countries are generally cowards, and a number are sycophants, liars, and cronies.
So one has to wear multiple layers of blinders, palimpsest blinders, and focus on those things you can do well, and try to atleast contribute to the others but not be consumed by them.
I believe what I can do is be: the Protector of Patients from Health Care. But that comes with incredible cost. So why do I do it? It is the right thing to do. Find your cause.
Richard Semelka, MD