The Friday before Christmas 2022 I had what they are now calling a “health event,” and as a result of that I’ve spent some times around mega-medicine. As a result I was impressed, in a way I had not heretofore been, that the world I was born into in 1959 and the world I inherited from those who were born before me is not the world I am living in now. That may seem like a fairly obvious truism but it struck me hard again in the last three days.
I’ve spent some times in hospitals along the way of my journey. I have seen them from the inside so to speak. This time around I was dumbstruck by how different of a people we have become. It is not that the people were not capable. They clearly were. It’s more that there is just a different feel in the way people are leaning into life. It could be this is just a case of the old complaining about the young but it could also be the case that something has gone broken along the way. Besides, the critiques of old people are not always errant. Here is one nobody took seriously from a couple generations prior to me that I’ve always liked. It was completely ignored when it was uttered;
“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”
Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society
Part of the reason that I am seeing what I am seeing is that very few took Muggeridge’s words seriously at the time he uttered them.
And what is it that I saw?
First, I saw that the multiculturalism New World Order crowd really are winning the day. I saw bulletin boards plastered with information regarding the importance of DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion). Big Medicine, like all other Big everything, doesn’t get this one wrong. Everywhere there were posters proclaiming “Expect Respect, Give Respect.” Clearly, it seemed to me, if one has to make a major add campaign based on this theme than an outsider could conclude that all this Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion doesn’t exactly breed Respect and so we must have a major add campaign that emphasizes how evil any discrimination in any degree would be, thus demonstrating that multiculturalism doesn’t really work unless those at the top hammer everybody into a ideological precast template that is labeled “nice.”
Whenever I see a superabundance of “nice,” I automatically think of C. S. Lewis’ “N.I.C.E.” Lewis uses the word as a acronym for an villainous technocratic movement in his Novel world which is hellbent in re-making the world into a dystopian progressive world where everyone and everything is better for being managed by that technocratic elite. All the naturalness of life is stripped away and in its place comes the managerial world operated by people who are always smiling, always saying just the right thing, and always having “your best interest at heart.” Beware nice.
I saw that people were just different. It was almost as if I were viewing them as being an alien plopped in their midst. Everyone is so in touch with their emotions and that comes out in their conversations. I was admitted @ 0430 in the morning and the questions I was being asked in order to be admitted left me scratching my head;
“What is it about you that we need to know about you in order to help you get better?”
“Do you feel safe in your home?”
“What is it about you that makes you different?”
The admission questions struck me as more akin to what one might find in a Rogerian psychotherapy session than what one would find in a sick person being admitted to a hospital. I get that they have their reasons but they are as reasons that exist in a different world than the one that I was bequeathed.
One thing I didn’t see much of were white male Doctors – indeed not much of white male anything came across my visual horizon. This takes us back to the victory of multiculturalism. When I was a boy we had foreign Doctors. I had a Filipino Doctor who helped put together my badly mauled right hand whose name was “Furtado.” I also had a Brit named “Warr,” who helped to the same end. I remember each of them as excellent Doctors. However, this time around white, male Doctors were a rare commodity. You wouldn’t think that would be the case in a country that is still somewhere around 62% white.
This is consistent with key findings from a recent survey of hiring managers:
–52% believe their company practices “reverse discrimination” in hiring
–48% have been asked to prioritize diversity over qualifications
–53% believe their job will be in danger if they don’t hire enough diverse employees
–70% believe their company has DEI initiatives for appearances’ sake
This is not a complaint at the ability of the foreign Doctors who were in charge of my care. Even if I could not pronounce their names – names I had never seen before in 63 years of living — I had no doubt that their training and ability was top drawer. However, to be honest, I have to wonder if my foreignness to them is a barrier to how much they might care for me as a patient. Would they not naturally care more for someone with my condition who was from among their people than they care for an aging cis-gendered Christian white male like myself? When one is desperately sick, those issues go through my mind even if scant few think like that today. I want to know my physician cares about me and can’t he care for me more were he a WASP like myself? Wouldn’t he naturally care for me more if he had a WASP name like myself — a name like Pete, John, or Sam, as opposed to a name that looks like it had never met a vowel it liked?
I saw the usual assortment of tattoos, evidence of “alternate” lifestyles (if all lifestyles are accepted now can we really even use the word “alternate” any longer?) It’s all very different from the hospital personal who, even into my twenties, were all wearing pretty white dresses with pretty funny little white hats. (I married a nurse and I still remember her pretty white dresses.) Today they wear color coded scrubs and you might be more likely to be cared for by a very nice butch Lesbian nurse as you are cared for by a cis-gendered Christian white female. This is also very different from the world I remember.
One brief conversation encapsulates what I am getting at. There was a change of shift and the new nurse came in to introduce herself. She said her name was “Jon.” As I was listening with my old 1959 ears I just assumed she said “Joni” having never met a female before with the name “Jon.” I responded by saying, “You can call me ‘Mr. McAtee,’ or ‘Bret’ I don’t really care.” She immediately laughed with a kind of nervous laugh saying “Mr. McAtee,” as if the idea of addressing me that way would be a joke. Whereupon she immediately addressed me as “Bret.” You can see why I say that the “world has passed me by.”
A word to be fair … the people who work in those hospital settings are slammed with working conditions that are over the top. The ER I was in was wall to wall with people. It looked like a triage setting in a MASH unit. I was a fortunate one to have a room. I was fortunate to have been processed as fast as I was. I can envision that many very sick people have to wait a very long time to get care. I did not have to wait.
I realize that the world I inherited is gone and is not likely to return. Like the ante-bellum South after the War against Northern Aggression and like the Russian people after the Bolshevik Jews took over, the world I grew up in is “gone with the wind.” It is unlikely to return. That doesn’t mean something better won’t come. It does mean that the world I inherited, lived in and so presupposed is not going to be seen and so I have to quit being surprised at this different world in which I now live as the alien and stranger.