Tag Archives: Inspiration

Diplomatically Speaking

Last Saturday (November 12, 2016), the American Medical Association, AMA honored Dr. Omalu with its Distinguished Service Award.  The award is a well-deserved honor, and probably long overdue, for a man, who despite being denigrated, maintained his professionalism and spoke truth to power.  There’s a lesson here for all of us, moving forward into a new political era.

Dr. Bennet I. Omalu, MD, MBA, MPH, was working as a forensic neuropathologist in Pittsburgh, when he conducted postmortem examinations of former NFL offensive lineman Mike Webster’s brain. He spotted what would become the hallmarks of CTE, a chronic traumatic encephalopathy, caused by repetitive brain trauma, resulting in lots of bad plague in the brain and leading to a new type of dementia. Omalu published this case in 2005; and subsequently, identified CTE in the postmortem examinations of many other former NFL players.

dr-omalu

If you saw Will Smith’s movie, Concussion, or heard about it, or think about it for two seconds, you’ll realize the National Football League, NFL did not welcome this information.  Remember, the witch singing in, The Wiz, “don’t nobody bring me, no bad news.”  Yet, Omalu even when faced, with concerted efforts:  to discredit him and his research, verbal insults and abuse, pressure on his firm to let him go, and even death threats, stayed the course.

Today, because of Omalu, CTE is widely recognized as a health risk in millions of patients with histories of repetitive brain trauma, including military veterans. Dr. Omalu knew he had to fight for those who needed help and didn’t know it and those who could no longer fight for themselves.  He protested by working harder to develop a preponderance of substantive evidence that was undeniable. Even in the face of overwhelming opposition, and having to confront his own fear, Dr. Omalu persisted.  He finally overcame both ignorance and resistance and earned being honored.

Omalu is not an isolated example of diplomatically speaking.  Think about Nathan, a prophet in the Bible’s Old Testament.  Nathan had the thankless task of having to tell King David that his affair with Bathsheba made him both an adulterer and a murderer. Like Omalu, Nathan’s position was absolutely and morally correct; but he needed a strategy for how to talk and be heard. Nathan knew he had to tread softly, when facing someone, who had unlimited power, privilege and authority, plus a huge ego.

nathan-confronting-david

So, in 2 Samuel:12, Nathan chose to tell David a story, which was too compelling for the King to ignore. As he listened, his eyes were opened to see the hurt, and his heart to feel the pain. He not only sympathized; he empathized.

The situation angered the King, and yet blinded, by his own privilege and circle of enablers, David was unwilling or unable to recognize his own faults or sins. Then, Nathan held up a mirror.

The moral from both these stories is that even when unwelcomed, diplomatically speaking, could prick the bubble of indifference.  Equally important, being diplomatic is a way to use your platform, and appeal to the opposition’s humanity; ultimately influencing, possibly changing their viewpoint.

Faith

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of

things sunseen.” Hebrew 11:1

Sometimes I tend to forget to be grateful. My eyes are too full of today’s problems: the bills I can’t pay, the things I don’t have. I forget how God has kept me, how he’s kept my family. And when I do think about what he’s done, I just have to shout: He’s good.
One example rapidly comes to mind. First was a few years ago, my husband had gotten a short bed SUV. You know the ones they removed from the market because it was too unstable. You hit the brakes the vehicles wanted to topple. Well we were in one before the recall, racing to Savannah. My husband was trying to get a bid in. (He’s a contractor.) We were moving, probably not like greased lightning, but we had turned I-75 into a runway.
Anyway, we were in the front, both kids in the back and their gerbils. I was trying to catch 20 winks because it was raining and he was driving. For a mom who runs from one school to another, one practice to another and works, it was rest time. Wouldn’t you know that I hadn’t shut my eyes good, when I realized we were spinning? That’ right spinning like a top in the middle of the Interstate. Thank the Lord, it was a divided highway. But my husband, who I have to admit is an excellent driver, couldn’t’ get control back. There was traffic coming, but somehow we seemed to be spinning, just above it, not in it. It was like we were spinning around in the palm of God’s hand.
All I could say was “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” I glanced back and saw that both kids were awake and both were praying to Jesus too. (Train up a child in the way he/she should go.) My husband too had called upon the Lord. And immediately, we came out of the spin turned in the opposite direction, in other words, we were headed for a head on collision with a 16 wheeler. We all said “Jesus” at once, and somehow, that truck passed us. Not only that my husband was able to spin around and get us headed in the right direction.
We heard a noise like the tires were bumping and rattling. We guessed they had gone flat, so we worked our way to the side of the road. Can you believe it? No flat tires. I realized as we all got out and said, “Thank you Lord.” That maybe we just needed to stop and take it all in.
Anyway, every time I get really down and think there’s no way out, I think about this incident, which could have taken all our lives. Then I remember that faith is always rewarded.