Wednesday, 13 April 2011

some not so light reading

today i'm going to share some links i've been directed to by my facebook friends.

first is this piece, a little dated now in internet years, but extremely powerful by dr glenn colquhoun. it's quite long but well worth the read. here's an excerpt:

Perhaps all I am saying is that spirituality is hugely important in medicine and seems at times to be forgotten. At the end of the day I think ache is that point beyond which human beings need faith to function. Faith and doubt may be more important in our practice than we think. It seems a deep irony to me that my adult life has been spent in long retreat from organized religion and my shattered childhood dreams of the ministry and yet I find myself now in a profession where each day I sit and listen to people love, cry, praise, confess and ache – desperately hoping that one of them will have a sore ear or at the very least a disorder of their Wolffian ducts. But I shouldn’t be surprised. Biology comes and goes and we do what we can as health professionals but spirituality is at the core of being well because it can alter our story and give us the emotional ability to make sense of whatever befalls us. It also reassures us that whatever shape we end up in we are not just human beings. At the heart of medicine is compassion, not science, not politics nor policy, not commerce but the assorted wreckage of human beings, their frailty and the long slow unwinding of our bodies. It is a profession of skin and ache and spiritual by its very nature. The consultation is its holy place, a source of communion and a science lab for the physics we have not yet described that occurs between people.

then there is this piece which is quite hard to summarise, and not very easy to read, but quite interesting. it is basically about islamophobic discourse, and here is an extract:

Ferruh Yilmaz, a professor of communication studies at Tulane University, has made me aware of how these constant right-wing interventions over immigration and culture, particularly as manifested towards "the Muslim" minority, are forging a new national racialized social ontology between "our" culture and "their" culture, to the point where some liberal feminists, gay activists, and others mobilize a culturalized discourse of human rights, focusing specifically on the culture or religion or tradition of "Muslim" immigrants as the source of the human rights violation. This is why, particularly in Europe but also now starting to have traction in the US, a culturalized concept like honor killing is alive and well. By constructing the murder of a woman as the result of "their" traditions and customs, they desire to implicate an entire people in the violence. This is rarely done for whites; in those cases the violence is defined as an act of an individual and rarely ever generalized to American or European or Danish "culture." I should also say that the reason I am focusing on issues like honor killing is that it is precisely through these progressive-sounding issues that the Right interpellates liberals into its hegemonic project. I predict that we'll be seeing lots of these issues in the next few years discussed and debated in the American media. Burning the Koran kinds of hate do not go well with liberal sensibilities, but add in a few statements about "their" patriarchal culture-now that will have much more traction and pull in a larger number of folks who usually would not participate in explicitly racist discourse. This is indeed how the Right is forming the new racial hegemonic bloc.

and finally for today, bryan gould (of whom i'm a huge fan) making sense on the issue of appointing businessmen (& yes, it usually is men) to be diplomats. i strongly recommend reading the whole piece, but here's a taste:

From public service broadcasting to running prisons, from providing health care to protecting the environment, there is virtually no aspect of our national life that would not benefit, it seems, from being run as though it were a business. We scarcely have a public service any longer, so numerous are the highly paid consultants who now compete for the work.

Everything must be justified on purely business grounds. We are no longer citizens, but (if we're lucky) shareholders - no longer people, but units of production.

Workers in any case do not count. The business people we are invited to lionise do not include those who merely work for a living, since it is making money, not earning a living, that is held up as the pinnacle of achievement.

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