Tag Archives: world

Corazon Por Corazon

I speak very little Spanish but being a salsa fan, I have heard enough Spanish lyrics to know the Corazon means heart and the Spanish-speaking world is always ‘Corazon this’ and ‘Corazon that’. The title is a nod to the video I just watched on Facebook which has inspired this piece. It was posted by Andre Gayle who has stuck English subtitles on a Spanish video entitled Corazon por Corazon (heart by heart…changing the world). Basically, the video is about the loss of our humanity, the very essence that is supposed to make us superior to other animals and plants. It highlights what cruelty and sadness there is in the world and how a lot of us are desensitised to the sight of another human in need. So much so that when we witness suffering, many a times our response now is to take out our smartphones and take a video instead of offering our help.

It made me cry, especially the scenes of animals and children being abused. It made me ask ‘why’ again. I am the half full glass type of a girl but occasionally, I become despondent when I watch the news and it is full of pictures of little children being bombed by Israel or another old pensioner being abused by a carer. It makes me question what I am doing spending so much of my time doing NHS/eportfolio paperwork when there is suffering out there and I have the medical training to perhaps make a difference to so many, in Nigeria for example. It makes me question whether having children is a good idea because what legacy are we leaving behind for them to inherit?

The environment is a huge worry for me. I drive a Nissan Leaf in an attempt to be greener and I recycle and try to minimise waste. I know my efforts mean something but are probably insignificant in the grand scheme of things but at least having made the effort, I go to bed with a clearer conscience. For every person who drives a ‘green’ car or cycles or walks, there’ll be 10 people who drive cars with ridiculous amount of emissions, who waste more than half the food they buy and who never do any recycling. As the ozone layer thickens and the greenhouse effect is compounded, global warming intensifies. Formerly temperate climates develop extremes of weather. Flooding, draughts, tsunamis, tornadoes, forest fires and earthquakes occur with greater frequency than ever before. Large populations of the world who are dependent entirely on subsistent farming are living in famine conditions year after year. Ironically, in Europe and the US more and more of the population are buying excess food and every week are binning it as they buy too much and let it all go to waste. Too much of land is taken up by refuse which no one knows how to get rid of properly. Mountains of waste piling up as we become more and more wasteful. Turns out that even our recycling is not all recycled. Because our Governments have not invested enough into recycling plants so only a fraction of the potential recyclables are being  recycled.

Kindness is becoming short in supply too. As the video highlights, it is now commonplace to watch a person being beaten, robbed or even stabbed and no one wants to step in because it is all about protecting the self. Every year, there is someone on the regional news who has been stabbed or mugged in a bus or at a bus stop or somewhere similarly public where everyone has just stood by and watched. Yet some of these people have the audacity to whip out their phones and video the event and then post it on YouTube. I always wonder how these onlookers would feel if the victim was not a stranger but their mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son or best friend?

As for the violent offenders, many of them are children who are old enough to know between right or wrong but even at that early age, they seem hardened and lacking in the most basic of human kindness. I know this lack of kindness and empathy is multifactorial but I am convinced one of the main reasons is poor parenting that comes with the modern time. As a paediatrician, I am in a privileged position to be able to closely observe the intimate relationship between parents and their children. There are many things we see that cause us to raise our eyebrows and a few that send us running to Social Services. But what I find most disappointing is when a young child aged 3 or 4 does or says something cruel and the parents, instead of taking the opportunity to point out what is right or wrong and explain why, turn their faces away and throw away the chance to shape their child into a decent person. A couple of weeks ago, I was on-call and went to see a 10 year old boy who was in pain with my registrar (senior to me) and an ST1 (junior to me). The registrar examined him and decided we needed to investigate by taking a blood sample. The boy’s reaction was to shout ‘You are not f*****g touching me. I will bash your f******g head if you come near me’. What did his father do? He bowed his head and my registrar shot the top of the dad’s head a look. As more swearing came forth, I stepped closer to the boy and said firmly ‘I’m sorry you are scared of having a needle but you are not allowed to speak to us like that. We are here to help you.’ That stopped him in his tracks and he resorted to sobbing. His red-faced dad followed us out of the cubicle to apologise and all I could think was ‘don’t apologise to us, teach him to have a bit more respect.’

Speaking about respect, I think that has run off with the kindness. As doctors, we are at the receiving end of a lot of disrespect but we put up with it because we understand when people come in contact with us, it tends to be the most stressful, frustrating, unhappiest time in their life. I think a little respect goes a long way. It is in the small things like saying sorry when you barge into somebody, holding open a heavy door for the person a few paces behind, picking up an item someone (especially frail, old or pregnant) has dropped right in front of you or even smiling at a stranger who makes eye contact. It is about saying please and thank you to anyone helping you out even if it is their job to do it. It is about acknowledging your work colleague who does a little extra work so you don’t have to do it or staying longer at work to finish a task so they don’t have to hand it over to you. It is about realising your loved one is sad and giving them a hug. It is about saying the occasional thank you to your spouse for all the little considerations they give you daily that make your life better without you even realising they’re doing it.

I will say that I am lucky to be surrounded by lovely people who I am proud to call my family and friends. I know I did not get to choose my family but I certainly chose the family I keep close and the friends I surround myself with. These people are generous. They are donating to charity and taking part in fundraising for charities. They are courteous to strangers and helpful where they can be. They smile easily and are generous with their hugs, kind words and cups of tea. They recycle. They reclaim furniture. They treat their pets with love and tenderness. They are there when you get bad news. They hold your hand and sit beside you when there are no words that can ease the pain and hurt. They pray for you to succeed and celebrate whole-heartedly when you do succeed. They turn up when you need them the most. They laugh with you and not generally at you (but sometimes they laugh at you too if they know you can take it). They care about their neighbours and it is not always about them. They are diamonds…beautiful bling with surprising strength. They inspire me every day to be a better person and whenever I reflect on the people in my life, I feel blessed.

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Philosophy 101

My best friend did a BSc in Sociology and Philosophy at Uni whilst I studied Medicine. She would come home and tell me what they had discussed in Philosophy and we would have debates about the issues they raised. I cannot remember what exactly we were talking about that day but we got to talking about gravity and the world being a sphere. We ended up making our brains work overtime and we had to stop imagining after a while because our heads literally hurt at the concept we were trying to grasp.

First we imagined being a giant, as in being bigger than the planet Earth. So we looked at it from his perspective (this giant is male for some reason). We imagined if he came across the Earth which would be like a large alien ball to him, what would he see and feel if he examined it closely? Maybe examined it under a giant microscope? First of all, there is the atmosphere which we think is nothing concrete so we thought maybe the 1st thing he would see/feel would be the clouds, wispy inconsequential bits of fluff to Giant. Maybe the clouds would feel like a wet wipe, cool and moist.

Next, would he feel the highest mountain peaks as hard sharp jagged spikes? Looking at them, maybe they would be the size of massive zits. The highest building and towers may feel bendier than the mountains and maybe look like black heads in comparison to the mountains. How about the oceans? Would they be like squishy jelly to him because we imagined he would stick his fingers in the Arctic ocean and think ‘cold jelly’ then into the Indian Ocean and think warmer. Looking at the oceans must be like looking at an abstract painting with the shifting blues, greens, indigoes and even corals of the oceans and seas. Active volcanoes would give Giant an impression of hot spots and to look at little cones discharging puffs of grey smoke with hot red goo in their centres. Forests would feel soft with bristle underneath and look like broccoli and herb gardens to Giant. Deserts would feel like grit and look like fine brown powder. Huge waterfalls like Niagara and Iguaçu falls would look like steaming water dripping off the sides of the heads of broccoli onto the stalk.

Then it got harder for our brains to imagine. Would anything else really be significant to Giant? Would houses and roads and lakes be large enough to make an impression on him? We certainly didn’t think humans would attract much notice. Elephants and blue whales he would probably be able to appreciate under the microscope but humans would be like tiny ants and would only make a mark if there were thousands gathered in a demonstration or large arena concerts. Large birds would be like butterflies or even flies. Anything smaller would be a mere irritation to feel and he certainly wouldn’t see them.

We had to stop imagining there because the scaling down was scrambling our brains. The other things we thought is, although many of the structures/features of the world we have imagined above are either mobile or fluid, because of the effect of gravity, it is all held to the surface of the ball that is the Earth. This must mean that if Giant were to hold up Earth with Africa on the top, Britain would be on its side and it would look like Ben Nevis was horizontal and not vertical as we know it is. Also if he were able to see humans, still holding the Earth in this position, we would all like little particles, all stuck onto the surface of the Earth.

So now I have re-imagined all of this, I wonder about the microscopic world. When I look at lichen that looks like it is stuck to the ground, is it really stuck to the ground? Or is it just so lightweight that the gravitational pull to the center of the Earth is too strong to allow a mere mortal like me to see that it is actually mobile? I mean, it must be mobile at least to begin with because when the pavement was put in place, there was no lichen and years later, there is lichen that has come from somewhere else. As are the ringworms/warts that must be living in baths so that you unsuspectingly step on them and ‘catch’ ringworm or warts which you only find out about weeks later when you get the rash of ringworm or feel the pain of a verruca. There is so much we do not know about because we cannot see or feel them but all the same it doesn’t mean that they are not there. That is why I say, we never know what else is out there (aliens etcetera) because how could we when we don’t fully know what is living right here on Earth with us. Maybe right under your feet, right now as you sit and read this. Boggles my little brain!!!