Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Nation In Denial

Communicating vital facts becomes extremely difficult in a society which exists in a perpetual state of denial. Finding a way to practice efficient and compassionate medicine is no easy task when faced with:

  • Denial based on religious beliefs

  • Denial rooted in fear

  • Political pressure

  • Blatant stupidity

In December 1994, Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was booted out of office for trying to answer a physician's question about masturbation. The question was posed by a psychiatrist attending a medical conference at which the Surgeon General was a key speaker. Taken out of context, the Surgeon General's statements gave her political foes the ammunition they needed to remove Dr. Elders from office. And yet, the Surgeon General was right on target when she stressed that "We have tried ignorance for far too long."

The fact that uttering one politically-inconvenient word could trigger a chain of events which swiftly removed the nation's highest-ranking physician from office gives testimony to the power of language and its proper (or improper) use in our culture.

[Consciousness Raising Exercise #9]

Next: How Have Societal Changes Changed Our Language?

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