I know I have been dark and gloomy these past few days. My field has been dark for a long time. The crisis we find ourselves in isn’t new. We just lack the willpower to truly lead hence this darkness I feel for us. But today, I want to change course. Today, I actually want to use my platform to introduce light. We can act, we truly can do so as long as we gather as leaders to ignite and transform our field. That’s my hope anyways, that we will become the next generation truly taking action in word and deed, not in service only for our resumes but really for the public we serve. It will not be easy. They status quo will always prevail and rightfully so. They have over 120 years gap ahead of us so I don’t even expect to be in competition with them. This isn’t a race. But there is a sense of urgency that has been brewing for a long time and I want to be counted as those in generation public for the public’s health. I want to be counted as those in generation light for the public’s health.
I was inspired by the work of Paul Cornely, the first black President of the American Public Health Association. He was the first with so many other things too that I am so sad we don’t have a lot in his honor. This is my attempt to change that. I was inspired by an essay he wrote back in the 70’s about an ardor for change. It’s has taken over 50 years, but your enthusiasm for the field has been caught by a few of us and together we will work to bring light to the public’s health. Know too that all you suggested then about our society being sick, even the malady of racism is just as relevant as you are for today’s generation of light bringers for the public’s health. We all remain aware of the marked deterioration taken place in our society. We also know the irresponsibility and immorality of ignoring social issues too, social justice even or the right to health for all. And when we still evaluate all the field has done, it’s all remains little, 50 years later since your remark. And this pandemic has revealed openly the stark injustices that permeates our field to. The institutional racism you harped on 50 years ago, even among so called associations and experts, myself included, in service really to our curriculum vitae’s and not the public we purport to serve. So who remains in the business of the public’s health. No one, even in 2021 or in 2022. If I have been dark, it’s because our field has been left behind for so long that we could not even be called upon during the greatest and once in a lifetime pandemic that has killed over 850, 000 Americans and still counting. There are no great leaders in public health and not medicine, public health, leading the public at a time when the public desperately needs attention and care.
But now in moving this notion of light forward, in propelling light for public health, I penned the following verse inspired by Job (yea Bible Job). Our field can learn a thing or two about someone who lived through darkness. I hope you like it.
What if we sent light to places dark as death? What if we taught light to people that lacked insight? What if we gave light to those that wander confused and lost? What if we allowed light to flow to those who fall? What if we let light be the voice of the forgotten? What if we used light to direct the lives of all Gods’s creatures?
Then we might all become light. So long as we send light to the dark, teach light for insight, give light to the lost, allow light to flow, let light speak, and use light to direct lives and places as dark as even the forgotten public’s health.