Friday, February 12, 2010

Hippocrates and The New Cincinnati -- Doctors Rushing To The Aid of the Republic

A terrific piece in Fox Forum this morning from Dr. C.L. Gray, writing about the need to elect more doctors to Congress, and citing three physician-candidates in his home state of North Carolina: Dr. B.J. Lawson, Dr. James Taylor, and Dr. Dan Eichenbaum.

In making his argument, Gray cites the wisdom of Hippocrates, who reminds us why medicine is so highly revered--because doctors have earned that reverence, not only by saving lives, but by suffering with their patients:

In "Precepts" Hippocrates once wrote, “For if love of men is present, love of the art is also present.” In "On Breaths" he added, “The physician sees terrible things, touches what is loathsome, and from others’ misfortunes harvests troubles of his own.” For the Hippocratic physician, the well-being of the individual was of primary concern—not power, not money, not personal gain, and most assuredly, not the supremacy of the State. The Hippocratic physician was born to serve his fellow man.

Gray is 100% right--at its Hippocretean best, medicine is surely the noblest of professions. So is it a bit paradoxical to see doctors running for political office? Maybe. And most Americans would agree that politicking is a lower estate than doctoring.

But occasionally, the political situation becomes so egregiously bad that honorable citizens must put down their plows, as did Cincinnatus of Roman antiquity, rushing to the aid of the republic.

That duty to serve the commonwealth includes honorable doctors; they, too, should step forward into the public square, bringing their medical credibility to improve the political discourse and to reach better policy solutions. That's not to say that doctors are always right, about health and medical policy or anything else. But for reasons best put forth by Hippocrates, 2500 years, ago, doctors have credibility; as the legendary Greek physician said, “For if love of men is present, love of the art is also present.” Not many doctors, who love their art--and, in turn, are loved by their patients--would ever seek to demote medicine as the Obamans have, seeking to reduce the healing arts to just another bureaucratic subset of the federal government.

And so, most likely, we will be hearing more from Drs. Lawson, Taylor, and Eichenbaum.

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