Sometimes the scales fall from your eyes andyou see the world with a wonderful clarity. Allthe dizzying complexities of modern life, theconflicts between rich and poor, North andSouth, Christians and Muslims, and Ohio State andthe University of Michigan all become explained.Such a revelation was brought on by the wonderfulpeople who analyze the political trends, giving us thered vs the blue.
You've seen it: the red and blue states, the red andblue counties, and finally the red and blue voters. OnNov. 3, you no doubt awoke to the realization thatyou yourself were either red or blue. It's all aboutyour values. Those values determine who you votefor, which way you go on issues, and just abouteverything else you do in life.
I was skeptical, of course, until I stared at myselfin the mirror on Nov. 3 and noticed a distinct reddishtinge to my complexion. A quick look back at my wifeshowed a similar shade of red, much to my relief.However, a look at our children showed a faint, butdistinctly blue color.
How can this happen? Why didn't we know aboutthis before? How did we come to have such conflictingattributes? I decided to ask an expert on the evolutionof human beings, the famed Louis Leakey, PhD.Dr. Leakey's great contribution to science was in discoveringthe missing links in the genetic evolution thatturned the apes into humans. He's dug up hundreds ofbones in the area of the world where that evolutiontook place, the Great Rift Valley in northeast Africa.Dr. Leakey understands the development of humanbeings from their first days 6 million years ago,through , , andall the way up to the present day.
Dr. Constan: Dr. Leakey, we seem to have a marvelousnew way to look at modern humankind. Somepeople are blue and some are red, and one canexplain everything about their deepest core values,how they think, and why they act the way they dosimply by understanding their color. Is there any scientificbasis to this?
homo sapiens cyanosis
Dr. Leakey: Interesting that you should ask.Recent excavations in Africa have found a divergenceof the human genetic material around 1.2 millionyears ago. This is evidence that the actually split into two distinct subspecies, and . The divisionparallels your recent discovery that Americans comein red (rose) and blue (cyan) varieties.
Dr. Constan: With all due respect, sir, I'm offendedby the suggestion that my decisions could be in anyway determined by something beyond my control.
Dr. Leakey: That's not what I said at all. I've beentalking to Margaret Meade, the foremost authority ondevelopment of human society, and she agrees with me.Dr. Meade and I concur that every human is a productof genetic, family, societal, and situational issues thatcolor their approach to the world. Each human adoptsa worldview that works within those constraints.
Dr. Constan: Tell me why this would be importantto my readers, who are all physicians.
Dr. Leakey: Well, most physicians, of course, valuehuman life. Actually, you value health and see the contrastsbetween the good feeling of health and the badfeeling of pain and suffering. When you look at your fellowhuman, you look underneath their skin, into theirhearts, livers, kidneys, etc. You focus on those organsand how they work or don't work properly, and howthey affect the feeling of well-being in their owners.That, in a nutshell, is your value; it's what you thinkabout all day and what you dream about at night. Ofcourse, you dream in color. That arterial blood needs tobe clearly red, and not blue.
Dr. Constan: I'll agree with that, but it seems to methat concern about life and health is the only true value.
Dr. Leakey: There you go, assuming that your valuesare the only ones that count. In fact, your values areprofoundly different from the values of many otherAmericans, and therein lies the conflict. Let me give yousome examples. The lawyers you so love to criticize arefocused on what they call "justice." In their minds, it'sthe balance or justice of conflicting interests that constitutesthe only important value in living. A dreadedsubspecies, the trial lawyers, are focused on assets. Intheir value system, the only true justice is in transferringassets from those who have them (ie, you) to those whodo not have them (ie, their clients, and themselves, whoreceive a big cut of any settlements).
Dr. Constan: So how is this concept relevant to thefinancial world?
Dr. Leakey: Look at the financial people you alsocriticize: the hospital administrators, insurance executives,business administrators who pays your salary ifyou're employed, etc. Their core value is all about balancingthe numbers. They like black numbers anddespise red numbers. They could care less about themessy world of diminished cardiac outputs, metastaticlesions, and bacterial invasions—the world you live in.
Dr. Constan: Don't get me going. They're nowtelling me that I should collect my fees before I see thepatient. My patient is sick, maybedying, and I can't examine or treat them until theyopen their wallet and give me their green stuff. I'mtired of turning every important issue into a color.Hippocrates would turn over in his grave.
Dr. Leakey: I know Hippocrates, Dr. Constan, andyou're no Hippocrates. He was actually quite mercenary.He invented that oath to compete with the charlatansof his day. He needed to show that his followerswere more idealistic than his competitors, whichhe did. That battle has been fought and won; youdon't have to fight it anymore. Your patients trulybelieve that modern medical science has the final wordon health and disease. Survey after survey showsAmericans have more confidence in your professionthan they have in any other. Your challenge today is toestablish a practice that is financially viable. In otherwords, you need to figure out a way to make your scientificapproach pay off. You should listen to thenumber crunchers, who have some good ideas.
Dr. Constan: So what do you think about retirementplanners? What are they all about? We readtheir books and pay their consulting fees, but we don'treally believe what they're saying. All they want totalk about is retiring. But what red-blooded Americanphysician would ever do such a thing? Being a doctoris who we are, not what we do. A doctor would riska serious case of the blues if he were to retire. The bestwe can do is concede, for the sake of our families,that, in some distant time, we may cut down our gruelingwork schedules, play a little more golf, do somefishing, etc, but never will we concede that we willretire from being doctors.
Dr. Leakey: And that's okay, Dr. Constan. I understandthere are profound differences between subspeciesof . That doesn't mean that youcan't learn from each other. My contention is that weall would be better off if we tried a little harder tounderstand our conflicting colors. Understand the valuesof the people you deal with, and you'll be moresuccessful as a doctor. Your patients' main value maynot be to remain healthy; it may be something else,like being a successful parent. If you labor under theillusion that your patient has the same values as you,you'll continue at cross purposes, and neither of youwill be happy.
a family practice physician in
Saginaw, Mich, is the editor of the Saginaw County
Medical Society Bulletin and Michigan Family
Practice. He welcomes questions or comments at
3350 Shattuck Road, Saginaw, MI 48603; 989-792-1899; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louis L. Constan,