January 29th, 2017

In A Weekend of Paranoia and Anger and Fear, Some Release From the Other Side of the Globe

This was not a happy or comfortable weekend for ID doctors, given our predilection for inclusiveness, non-judgmental care, global health, and that “safety net” idea that seems to us such an intrinsic part of being a good doctor.

Exclusion of foreigners? Why, we ask, would you do that? People from other countries are our friends, our colleagues, and our patients. Many of our favorite patients, I might add, since they might bring with them exotic, challenging, and treatable problems that are right up our alley.

Furthermore, to overstate the obvious, most of us living here in the USA are not that far removed from immigration ourselves.

Fidencio Saldana — he’s a cardiologist, the Dean of Students at Harvard Medical School, and the child of Mexican immigrants — gave medical Grand Rounds at our hospital recently.

He recounted what it was like being a medical student here, and how out of place he sometimes felt. He then movingly described how was made to feel welcome by hearing from one of our senior doctors, Marshall Wolf:

Hey relax. My parents were immigrants too. You belong here.

That was two weeks ago, a brief aside made at a lecture, yet I have thought of it frequently since, especially this weekend.

And this morning, glum and discouraged by recent events, I needed some distraction.

So I turned on the television at 6AM and watched two of the most extraordinary athletes in the world, Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain, play the fifth and deciding set of tennis at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia.

The crowd was cheering, and hanging on every point, and no doubt millions of others all over the world were doing what I was doing — watching and marveling and feeling a sense of global togetherness for this extraordinary event.

And here’s the best part. After Federer won the match, a grueling 5-set affair that lasted over 3 hours, he graciously said:

Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws. But if there was I’d be happy to share it with Rafa tonight.

Share. No gloating. No petty rivalries. No cheating. No distortion of facts. These are the best players in the world, competing at the highest level for hours, and they can still get along like friends even in the most intense setting imaginable.

You got that?

15 Responses to “In A Weekend of Paranoia and Anger and Fear, Some Release From the Other Side of the Globe”

  1. Meg Newman says:

    Appreciate your comments immensely Paul.
    Be well.
    Meg

  2. Ben says:

    Love it, Dr. Sax!

  3. Loretta S says:

    Thanks for that, Paul. I hadn’t heard about Federer’s statement, since I don’t follow tennis and I also find myself avoiding the news. What a lovely counterpoint to all the… bad stuff going on right now.

  4. I watched the WHOLE tennis match, which was wonderful, and completely agree with you Paul.

    Later that day I joined a rally of almost 2,000 people in Omaha, Nebraska, protesting the travel restrictions. Lots of signs saying “No Hate”. It made me feel much better.

  5. Bob says:

    I have always enjoyed reading the ID analyses of Dr. Sax. I have enjoyed his humor greatly enjoyed and maintain his ID app on my phone. Yet, I believe it would be far more appropriate if he stuck to discussing ID, not politics for which, I believe, he is quite biased and very ignorant. Does Dr. Sax have the same feelings about the bans imposed previously by Presidents Obama and Carter on middle Eastern immigrants, or the internment camps of Franklin Roosevelt for United States citizens of Japanese ancestry?
    It is not surprising that from an institution in the celebrated bastion of knowledge in the northeast portion of this country, that liberals, out of touch with mainstream America,spread such narrow minded ideas. More fake news; the concept that most Americans believe that true vetting of potential immigrants is illegal. DId not the agencies closest to the knowing our true vetting ability state that at this time, we have no means to do it effectively perform that tastk? Being a first generation American whose parents and grandparents came through Ellis Island in the 1950’s, I celebrate the concept of LEGAL immigrants. The Obama policy of allowing illegal immigrangs and allowing sanctuary cities to exist is nothing but anarchy; if the law exists, enforce it; if you don’t like the law, repeal it.
    This country, our Constitution is based on laws, not on a policy of “if I don’t like the law, I will ignore it.”
    It appears that Dr. Sax believes,as I do, that we must find a way to get along, that we need to be accepting of others ideas even if we do not necessary agree with them. If that be his position, should he not respect the people that supported Trump and condemn those who perpetrate violence against those that speak out for Trump? But no; it appear, that Dr. Sax and the people that are of his mindset support violence those who disagree with him.
    Dr. Sax, just inform and educate us about infectious disease topics. Leave political commentary to thoses that are actuually knowledgeable and have cogent thoughts on social matters, not uniformed opinions.

  6. Peter Comfort says:

    From across the world – South Africa. I am saddened to see USA divided literally right down the middle. Furthermore, for the presidential campaign promises to be fulfilled – he is committed to that – USA citizens will necessarily polarise still further. Neither side is in a position to compromise – at least for the time being but nothing lasts forever.

    What are American values at heart? I am confident that in the longer run the most noble, generous, all inclusive and Just attributes of the American people that we all admire so much, will win out. You will find a way.

  7. Rob Stuart says:

    Bob,
    I find your comment to be a bit mean spirited. Essentially, you are saying, “I don’t like what you are saying, you are ‘uninformed,’ so shut up.” (It seems to me that President Trump’s National Security Council political advisor Steven Bannon just said the same thing to “the media.”)
    What about readers of Dr. Sax who would like to read his opinions? All you have to do is not click on his link. Isn’t that enough?

  8. Ellen Kitchell says:

    Dear Dr. Sax,

    Thank you for your sweet message of hope, which I thought was quite gentle and non-offensive. I wish we could all be as respectful of others’ opinions even when we do not agree. I am very tired of being told how I “should feel” right now, and how I should be quiet and passive. Although infectious disease is a very intellectual specialty, it is so impacted by political issues, particularly those affecting funding for the very poor. Imagine what will happen when we won’t have funding to care for patients with HIV. (e.g. PEPFAR, Ryan White). I will do my best. For those that are really happy right now that this president won, I am with you on hoping that he succeeds in making this country a better place. However, I would ask that those that are somehow threatened by my fears just let me have some feelings. I am praying for you.

  9. Jill A. says:

    Another reply to Bob:
    Dear Bob,

    Did we read the same post by Dr. Sax? I can’t see what he said that was ignorant and biased. On the other hand, calling someone “a liberal from a celebrated bastion of knowledge in the northeast portion of this country” sounds extremely biased. I am also offended that you accuse Dr. Sax of advocating violence. That’s a bizarre accusation, considering that the only mention of violence is in your comment. From your tone, my guess is that you’ve been holding in a lot of anger and just can’t keep it in anymore. I hope you find another way to deal with that.

    Jill

  10. Peter Comfort says:

    Again from South Africa. None of us are politicians, but we are all humanitarians. We speak out at what we perceive as wrong.

    During the Apartheid years I was confronted by the Security Branch of the SAPolice and told ‘Just get on with your job, shut your mouth and stay out of Politics’. Sound familiar?

  11. J.D. says:

    I find it interesting that people complaining that experts in various fields should not publicise their politics seem incapable of doing so without publicising their politics.

    Dr. Sax, your blog helps me to both deepen and broaden my knowledge, and informs my opinion. I love getting to see snippets of your diverse and usually amusing thoughts!

  12. Brenda says:

    Dr. Sax,
    Thank you so much for your comment… I´m a mexican HIV researcher and every point of view, opinion or comment that unifies and gives hope is more than appreciated.

  13. Cara says:

    Many people are fighting back in various ways, from all over the world, satire being one method: http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/02/donald-trump-parody-videos
    Thanks for all you do Dr. Sax

  14. Shiva says:

    This is exactly the time to speak up.

    “All Tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
    Edmund Burke

    Thank you, Paul.

    Iranian American HIV Physician

  15. Nevaeh says:

    It was dark when I woke. This is a ray of suinshne.

Leave a Reply

Note: This is a moderated forum. By clicking on the "Submit Comment" button below, you agree to abide by the NEJM Journal Watch Terms of Use.

Our physician bloggers cannot respond to requests for personal medical advice, and recommend patients discuss health issues with their individual physicians.

HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

Learn more about HIV and ID Observations.