An Open Letter to Those in the Healing Professions, or, “How You Are Like Batman”

Someone close to you died, was sick, or you simply figured out that humanity could be wicked, fallible, and miserable. But instead of recoiling into cynicism and solitude, you decided to embrace the suffering of the human condition. Fundamentally you hoped to change things, to protect others, to make the world of the infirm a less wretched place.

But ironically you have led a life of solitude. Sequestered in your cave you studied the old scripts, memorized the ancient maps, and honed your skills with the knife and pen. Many friends tired of you and your obsession, or thought you odd and distracted. Family was often deferred. There was no other way.

One day you emerged brimming with accomplishment and optimism, albeit conflicted about the more simple life you forsook. You finally earned the noble uniform. You experienced the exhilaration of helping others, comforting them with your heart and intellect, carving off the bad things of their lives. Slowly you let go of the imperative to be home. There was just too much work to do. And it was good.

One night you looked up at the dark, stormy sky, with its burgeoning thunderclouds, and realized your smallness beneath those anvil tops. You were a vulnerable tree in an open field like everyone else, rooted and exposed.

Something inevitably went wrong. You arrived too late. Your powers were too weak. You awoke from the dream to realize the world’s dubious appreciation for you.

Increasingly each token of thanks for a job well done seemed cavernous, filled by some parallel world in which things might not have worked out so well. Despite your self-proclaimed acts of heroism, your self-styled dark nobility, the public only trusted you when things went well. A few questioned your motives. They impugned you for a perfection you never claimed.

You move on, relegated to a dual life, incredibly fulfilled by the good works you achieve, and terribly worried by the future. You must bear the heartache of those who suffer or die in your arms just as you revel in the happiness of those you successfully protect.

Do not lose heart. Do not retreat from awesome responsibility. This is a pinpoint world, but you have sworn an oath to avenge it. Your calling must be to fight the injustice of pain, disease, and fear, even when the immensity of such a goal surely renders you a failure.

You can only hope to craft and rule your self, and therein be true to a moral creation.

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5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Those in the Healing Professions, or, “How You Are Like Batman”

  1. Nessar

    Thank you dear doctor Charles, today I came home , heartbroken and shattered after finding out I could have possibly prevented a pulmonary embolism which I didn’t. It was sure that others could also have neglected but I asked myself thorough the long hours today why I came to react this morning, 3 hours before my pat. began to desaturate. Your words were the finest gift of encouragement besides support from my clinical mentor. I force myself to craft and rule my self to what a good doctor can achieve. Thank you dear Charles.

  2. Kendra

    Just when I think you can’t write anything better, you do! My graduation ceremony is coming up in a few days. This would have made one helluva commencement speech.

  3. Greg P

    The mood swings that we get from time to time, sometimes words of adulation and marvel at our genius, our caring, generous nature, later followed by someone else accusing us of being some incompetent, uncaring hack can be breathtaking, the overall effect bring rather dumbfounding.

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