It’s all about me,
It’s all about me baby.
As you move East, humans become more collectivist in their outlook. (So says Jared Diamond in Germs, Guns and Steel).
Westwards, you have the individual.
there is me and there are us.
Which do you prefer?
In the UK we are more and more about the individual.
Occasionally we break from our shell,
We clap in the streets for the selflessness of NHS and other frontline workers,
We chang language to transform cleaners and delivery people
into essential workers,
As a balm to allow them to continue during the pandemic,
serving us, delivering our Amazon essential.
As they die in their thousands.
Afterwards, we vote for the individual
What matters to me
In healthcare I have been focused on the person for years.
The long-running publication, ‘This is me’ created by the Alzheimer’s Society to support the survival of people living with dementia during their time in acute hospital care is an example.
And this, I think, is because when you move from being a citizen, an ordinary Jo as they say, you transform from individual to object, from Peter, Paul or Mary to asthmatic, diabetic, metastatic.
The pulling-apart of the person is destructive.
Sure, it makes the doctoring easy.
When you only have to deal with the rash not the person attached to the lump or bump you have free-reign. Things become more complicated when someone is attached. An individual with their own ideas, ‘I don’t want to have it cut-off,’ for example.
All of this is a balancing act.
Me, you, us, them.
Once you start considering personal pronouns it becomes even more complicated.
They, thon and so on.
Should we move away from the individual and focus instead on the collective?
Adopt a utilitarianism?
Or, is that what they want us to think?
They the 1%, those who manipulate the media and politics, nudging us into a sense of scarcity.
Better by 100 toilet rolls and six-dozen eggs today, you never know about tomorrow.
Or, is this all a foil?
We, that is me, the representation of Western Society is actually living in a country of such affluence that we have enough money, resource, time and space to spend on every person, to individualise care and treatment, to make the hospital, the treatment or investigation tailored to the needs of the subject.
No need to sacrifice the few for the many. There are enough CTs and paracetamols to go around everyone many times over.
I can’t help it.
I work as a one-to-one doctor.
There are the epidemiologists who perhaps are able to see the bigger picture; they are not sitting in an armchair next to a person who has lost the ability to toilet or feed themselves, who experiences pain upon moment, who is unable to sleep-away the suffering.
Remember, suffering is like a gas.
It fills the space available.
My pain and your pain are apples and pears.
We are not conjoined twins,
Rather planets orbiting different suns.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Unless you want others to mess with you
Don’t mess with me.
I’d rather avoid the party
Or dinner dance
Or late night celebration.
Some like silent night
Noise and bustle.
The Lord God made us so
Or so it goes.
Which size fits.
It’s all about you,
It’s all about you baby.