After reading more posts from other participants in the course, I have some thoughts that I think I could share as a continuation of my week 6 overview (two more beliefs/concepts that have changed for me).
Firstly, something that struck me as I read Chantelle’s blog, was how differently we experience and relate to the same topics. Not necessarily because we have different opinions, generally I think they don’t differ too greatly; but because of how relevant these issues are to us. A lot of the topics that we covered were incredibly interesting and relevant for any human being, but in some ways it seems to me that what I was writing was more on a theoretical level. That could be due to not doing enough research etc. on my part in bringing up more solid examples and anecdotes, but I think that there were two reasons, the first was that I am not actually a health care professional, so as a result my experiences with patients who might have been experiencing these issues themselves, were still minimal in comparison.
Secondly, we live in such vastly different cultural climes; Canada is of course not free of these issues we have been discussing, but I have realized that Canadian society has a different view and take on a lot of these issues that I have basically taken for granted as universal. For me, the question of whether torture is ever alright is quite obviously no, whether empathy should be practiced in health care is obviously yes, these answers were a result of my own personal values, but also the socially and culturally accepted answer here in Canada. Some of the South African articles and news reports that you guys have been posting have really embodied the problems we have been discussing in ways that my experiences in Canada do not. For example the video that Chantelle posted in her blog in regards to torture, showed police brutality, which really is common enough in Canada, what with the RCMP and all, but also the nearly systemic application of torture whenever it suits them, for no real reason, and sometimes till death. That is not so often seen in Canada, we kind of abstractly think about it happening in the Middle East (while hoping that the Canadian troops didn’t take part in it), but not necessarily on Canadian soil.
In reflection, I realize that my posts may come off a bit idealistic and academic, due to the lack of direct relevancy to my own experiences. That doesn’t mean that I have been convinced that empathy has no place in health care (in the space of a week or so, since my last post, it’s become more apparent to me that empathy is a requirement for the well being of the patient, whether it is beneficial for the health care provider is another story and in some ways not entirely relevant to the argument). Or that the act of torture for example is suddenly alright. I feel like maybe we get ourselves a bit confused with things when it hits too close to home, sometimes being a bit further away from the situation might lead to clearer thinking.
A lot of us struggled with the post on torture, would it be alright to torture someone if it meant averting a war? What we unconsciously wonder about is, are we going to be caught in this war? And we start weighing one person’s life and pain with the life of our friends and family. The simple and clean way out of this problem is just to think of the act of torture and the threat of war separately. It’s always going to be wrong to torture someone, morally speaking. And not averting a war that might lead to the death and suffering of a multitude of people is a horrible prospect. It might seem like torturing someone would be the lesser evil, even though just thinking like that feels wrong in itself.
The thing is, it is more morally correct to have to debate and agonize over the decision every time the situation comes up, than to decide without agonizing over the decision, thinking that it is justified. We’re going to do a wrong thing either way here, no matter how much its discussed there’s no way to escape unscathed from this question and that’s the way it should be. Is torture ever alright? The answer is no, but it doesn’t make not averting a war alright. It just means that the situation is going to take its pound of flesh out of whoever gets to make the decision and/or carries it out.
In summary, my participation in this course have led me to realize just how insular my experiences and knowledge regarding the topics of this course have been. I have also realized that I need a lot more practical interaction with patients in order to more fully understand the relevancy of the course topics in a health care environment.
Have your expectations of the course been met?
Yes, I think that my expectations of this course has been met. I was able to read about the different perspectives offered by the participants of this course. Although, I regret not participating more fully and being able to write a follow up post to each topic afterwards.
Thanks for reading! 🙂