Sunday, December 20, 2015

Knocking on the Mind

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis once suggested that his fellow doctors might be contributing to the death of newborn babies and their mothers.  This notion was denigrated and unpopular, as you can imagine, among the doctors with whom he brought it up.  Lest this letter get too long, I'll leave you to consider and/or research the rest of that story.  The story itself is in no way denigrated, but it isn't nearly as popular as I'd like it to be.  It is the story of a hero.

Florence Nightingale wrote a lot.  Some of her notions were denigrated and unpopular, but her father had encouraged her to study mathematics and writing.  In fact, her 1852 essay "Cassandra" and the Greek character from whom she took the title both touch on the denigration of women in general.  She asks, "Why have women passion, intellect, moral activity - these 3 - and a place in society where no one of the 3 can be exercised?"  Seven years later, after tending to wounded British soldiers in the Crimean war, she published Notes on Nursing, still highly respected today in the profession that she founded.

I hope this essay has helped make you feel that you're ready to entertain a notion which might save babies or found a whole new profession or do some other fantastic thing.  If someone asked you to read it, and you have found value in it, let that person know.  Give them a sign that you won't write them off for suggesting something as outlandish as "Doctors' hands can carry disease" or "Women can be valuable medical professionals."

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