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Sarah Schnellbacher's picture

The Plague in Modern Medicine

Right now I am listening to the Surgeon General's speech at Bryn Mawr College. Dr. Benjamin mentioned that being a doctor "it is important to take care of youself." She quoted the stewartess on the airplane "first place your oxygen mask securely on before helping others". In class on Thursday we talked about how the doctors in Camus's "The Plague" act selflessly and to what extent we can be happy in an unhappy world. We also talked about whether it is shameful to be happy alone away from the unhappy world. Some of our discussion group felt that if they were in the position of Rambert (a stranger from out of town trapped in Oran in Camus's "The Plague"), they too would attempt to escape the city. Our discussion evolved into a question of loyalty toward the community. To what circle of kinship are we responsible of giving of ourselves for another? OrganizedKhaos remarked that her parents emmigrated from Haiti, yet they are able to contribute more to their community from afar than if they had remained in Haiti. The surgeon general's words seemed to emmulate this idea. She said, "You can't help others if you die of a heart attack." We mentioned in class that the idea of self preservation is a western concept. America's doctor has just confirmed Professor Dalke's assertion but I agree with the surgeon general. I feel that remaining to be slaughtered in the middle of genocide is not always the best solution and that we do have to think about how we can best help others, whether that is directly or indirectly. At the end of the day we can help more people if we don't die in the process.

Panelist at the health forum on healthcare disparities Dr. D. Fullilove further made me think of Camus's "The Plague" when he described how Gonorrhea had paid for his education (his father was a doctor who dealt with STDs). He said "the pathogen is not the problem...the cure is us" when describing why we still have Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphillus despite having discovered Pennicillin in the 1940s. Although we have a cure biologically for these pathogens, the underlying problem is a social issue and thus these diseases have not been erradicated. In Camus's "The Plague" the Bacillus does not subside until the underlying social problems in Oran are fixed and the community comes together. The plague serum alone can not stop the plague.



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