Last week I spoke to a group of emergency residents in East Lansing.  For the first hour, I talked about having the right perspective in the transition to residency.  In the next hour, I simply discussed a list of questions I had written down over the days previous.

It occurred to me that we seldom ask penetrating, important questions.  We deal mostly in superficialities.  Especially in medicine, but in much of life, we scientific post-moderns evade metaphysical questions because there aren’t easy answers.  We like the things we believe are concrete, though even they are far more porous than we would like to admit.  As one of the very bright residents said, ‘your terms are very nebulous.’

Yes, they were.  But they were nebulous by design.  So, with this post, I want to begin a series of posts on some of those questions.  Some apply to medicine in general, some to emergency medicine in particular, but many to everyone on earth.

So, here goes.  Ponder them, discuss them, but please don’t evade them.  They are as relevant and essential as medications and water heaters, as government and economics.  Maybe, as things appear, even more so.

First question:

Am I free?

My thoughts:  I’m free, but within bounds.  As one listener pointed out, no one is entirely free.  Granted.  We are bound by space and time, by our bodies, by death, by money, by laws.  But, within those confines, we do have some freedoms.

This week, my two youngest and I road bikes into the national forest.  They’re 8 and 10.  We were free to ride into ‘the king’s forest,’ for now anyway.  We had no requirement to ask anyone’s permission.  My children are free to be with me, for now anyway.  I am free to spend my leisure time on them.

I am free to carry my pistol in a concealed holster into the forest.  I think it is irresponsible to rely on the inherent kindness of nature (a lie if ever there was one) or the inherent good of mankind (a delusion well dispelled in emergency rooms nationwide).  So, I carry my Glock 36.  I am free to defend myself and my progeny…so far.

I am free to take a job, or change jobs for now.  I am free to charge what my business sees fit; until the role of the ‘Salary Czar’ expands to medicine.

I am free to worship as I wish and say what I believe in a public forum; for now.

I am free to curse God or adore Him; I am free to abandon ethics or morals, to violate every precept of natural law if I choose.  All concerns for consequences aside, I may do as I wish.

I am free from guilt.  I do not dwell on past sins, as I believe them forgiven. Likewise,  I will not be bludgeoned into guilt by the political/cultural priests of secular misery for things I have no reason to bemoan, things I disagree with or things I didn’t cause.

I am blessed with health.  There is freedom in a sound body and mind.  I am loved by my dear wife and children; some may say I am bound to them, and so not free.  I disagree.  There is often more freedom within our constraints than ever there is outside of them.  I am free to love and experience the joy of the little universe of our family.

Others may not feel free.  I am sorry.  Jesus said he came ‘to set the prisoner free.’  Many of us, including myself, have been prisoners before.  But usually, we were imprisoned in false freedom, in a deceptive license of our own making, which was more confining than anything else.  We were our own guards.

Do you feel free?  Are you free?  Free economically?  Free politically?  Free spiritually or physically?

I leave you with that question.


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