Monday, 13 March 2017

Making real conversation possible

Most of us have heard of Westboro Baptist Church and their truly awful behaviour towards gay people. They are not alone in giving Christianity a bad name and sadly I play my part too, although I certainly don't share their hostility to gays.


This remarkable talk by a young woman who grew up as part of that church and was taking part from the age of 5 years, in protests against gay people and holding up placards that she scarcely could read let alone understand, is salutary and can teach us much.

For those of us who work as doctors it can give  an insight into how to help and relate to those patients who we may feel have wacky health beliefs. Sadly there is often hostility, frustration and impatience which rarely leads to a satisfactory consultation.

And for those of us who claim to be Christian believers and who would love others to share our convictions there are lessons here in how to approach the 'other' who does not share our views. Megan ends with 4 principles to make real conversation possible.

1. Dont assume the other person has bad intent in their beliefs and ideas.
2. Ask questions and listen well. Map the disconnect
3. Stay calm. This needs practice and patience. 'The rightness of our position does not justify rudeness'
4. Make the argument. The value of our position is not self evidently true otherwise everyone would share it.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Poems that make grown women cry

With Mother's Day approaching I guess this book now released in paperback, will sell well.

Last August I wrote briefly about poetry after reading some of the poems in Poems that make grown men cry. I really hope to value and read more poetry in my semi retirement.

So writing in today's I, Ben Holden, who co-athured both books with his father, writes...
'This collection continually ambushed us during its compilation..... in line with Alexander Pope's famous observation that poetry captures, 'what oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed".'

Judy Dench's choice is so touching, 'So,we'll go no more a roving'  by Lord Byron. She tells us that her late husband used to recite this when the pair were giving performances together. However she was never able to continue if he recited this first so it always had to come last. Otherwise, 'it reduced me to tears, so much so that I was unable to continue the recital if it were my turn next.'

SO, we'll go no more a-roving 
  So late into the night, 
Though the heart be still as loving, 
  And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
  And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
  And love itself have rest.


Though the night was made for loving, 
  And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving 

By the light of the moon.

Perhaps more poetry in our lives would increase our understanding of each other by in some way plumbing the depths of our human emotion and experience. I'm sure it would benefit all GPs who must surely aim to excel in emotional intelligence-if only by being aware of their own shortcomings and perhaps look to poetry to help them. The Psalms in the Old Testament wouldn't be a bad place to start either.

The Long Walk

It's always a bit chancy to give someone a book. A little like recommending a restaurant. Will others like it? Will the service be as go...