What do physicians and nurses have in common with Canadian truckers? Plenty.
Rous Dhouhat, Opinion writer of The New York Times, wrote an article where he explained how the much-vaunted meritocratic system of our modern societies has degenerated into a binary caste system dividing us in two separate camps. He wrote: “A great and mostly unknown prophet of our times Michael Young, whose book ‘The Rise of the Meritocracy’, published back in 1958, both coined the term in its title and predicted, in its fictional vision of the 21st century, meritocracy’s unhappy destination: not the severe rue of the deserving and talented, but a society where a ruling class selected for intelligence but defined by arrogance and insularity faces a railing populism where grievances shift but whose anger at the new class order is constant.”
Michael Dunlop Young, British sociologist and politician, coined the term meritocracy by fusing the Lain verb “mereor” or “demereor”, which means “to deserve”, and the Greek suffix “cracy”. He was in fact ridiculing a planned transformation of the Educational System in the United Kingdom, which destroyed the traditionally egalitarian role of their Public System by creating a schism in society at large. He rightly foretold that intelligence and merit would become the central pillars of the new British society, replacing the traditional class warfare envisioned by Karl Marx. He predicted that on one hand, there would be a merited, powerful intellectual mandarinate and on the other hand a less merited, alienated lumpen proletariat. His manuscript was roundly rejected by 11 publishers until Thames and Hudson agreed to publish it.
After this terrible pandemic, there has been a stark differentiation between those that gawk at the symbols in a screen all day long and those that use their hands to work. Young wrote his book before the advent of the computer and could not have fathomed the extent of his visionary conception of the world we are now living. Watching the rebellious truckers’ protests in Canada, N.S. Lyons alerted about the clash between those that work by manipulating data and those that have daily contact with the physical world. He divided workers into The Virtuals and The Practicals.
Note. This image of a First World War Navy recruiting poster was taken from Wikimedia Commons.
What does all the above have to do with our daily tasks as physicians and nurses? Fortunately, most of us are working in a hybrid environment where we have daily physical contact with our patients with their raw realities but at the same time, we sit for hours on end in front of computer screens to gawk at the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to decide on virtual pathways that only exist in the digital world. As a result we receive the input of both worlds and share their unique challenges.
In this challenging Post-Pandemic World, physicians and nurses must daily juggle the obligations of wearing two hats. The Mandarin’s button spheres that separates us from commoners. And the Proletariat’s flat cloth cap that gets us closer to them.
Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.
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Don’t leave me alone.