Dark and stormy times

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 58, No. 10, December 2016, page(s) 544 Editorials
David R. Richardson, MD

It was a dark and stormy night—at least it was while I was writing this editorial in late October. Hopefully by the time these words are published our neighbors to the south will have made history by electing their first female president.

I was born in 1963—the year JFK was assassinated and right in the middle of the American civil rights movement. My over 50 years on this planet has seen the fall of apartheid and the Berlin Wall. During my lifetime many significant positive strides toward racial and gender equality have been made. However, I am saddened that equality on all levels isn’t the current world standard.

Nevertheless, I am proud of the progress that has been made. In my younger years I would have never believed that I would live to see a man of color become president of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth, let alone serve two terms. I think the majority of Canadians admire Barack Obama for the quality of his leadership. I can only hope the American people take the next step and elect a woman to the Oval Office. Gender equality has been a long time coming and remains an elusive goal in many areas of society.

Medicine has been one area in which much has been accomplished. My medical school class consisted of 50% women. My referral patterns aren’t based on gender, but by the quality of the specialist in question. Pay equality is the norm. However, I realize my female colleagues have and still do face episodes of gender bias and discrimination, and sadly even harassment. Male-dominated holdouts remain in certain specialties and areas of medicine, but these are becoming fewer and farther between. Perhaps naively I believe opportunities in medicine are now being based on intellect and skill without consideration of gender.

I have an amazing wife and a fabulous daughter who are full of talent and drive. My granddaughter is approaching her second birthday and her sister is due to arrive in the next few weeks. I want and need for them to have the same opportunities I had and not be limited by gender. Their dreams and goals should not be capped and should include the highest office of any country they belong to.

The current democratic candidate is not my favorite, but based on merit she is definitely the best suited for the job. I think all Canadians shudder to think what will happen if the Republican nominee is elected. Moving forward I dream of a world where the gender, race, and sexuality of political candidates isn’t even part of the discussion.

Next step is for Michelle Obama to change her mind and give it a go.

Postscript: While the election didn’t go as expected, my hopes for the future are unchanged, so I have not revised my editorial.