As I head back on the train to London to meet my baby nephew for the first time, I continue to reflect on the events of the week thus far. I was almost about to not post this entry, as I understand that what I’m about to say maybe controversial. But I realised that a blog is about expressing yourself, sharing and exchanging your thoughts with others (even at the risk of disagreement). Otherwise, why bother?
This week was basically what I call a catch up week-completing the assignments, doing the extra “out of hours” shifts and getting my teaching presentation ready for my peers.
Usually on the day of our teaching, we gather around and talk about any topics of interest and things the others may have recently encountered.
Our group leader had asked us:
“What do people think about prescribing OTC meds?” (Over the counter)
No one said anything for a good few seconds, though there were a few exchanged glances across the room. I never usually say anything in these sessions. If I can help it, I try not to make a fuss. But when I do feel strongly about something, I don’t keep quiet. So I said…
“If they can afford cigarettes then they can afford paracetamol”
I realise this was a rather controversial thing to say. But I believed it to be true. I could see that the others were surprised with what I said, but I did see some nods around the room. This was followed by the leader of the group, who went on to say:
“You’re not going to survive for long where you’re at”.
The only thing I could come back with was that I had made it through 9 months at my post, and I only had 3 more to go. The others had later laughed along with what I said, realising that there maybe some truth to it.
They then went on to talk about the marshmallow experiment. This is something we’re all familiar with, but I have extracted an excerpt from Wikipedia which gives a nice summary about what it actually is:
“The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.) In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.”
Our group leader told us the story, to justify why she disagreed with me, but I didn’t see how exactly. To me, it only reinforced self discipline. She said that “we shouldn’t be judgemental” about some of the choices people make. People from such deprived areas “would rather pick up the cigarettes today and die tomorrow, because that’s the only choice they have”. I was confused-where exactly were we? Iraq? Congo? Maybe they needed to read “Viktor Frankl’s Man Search for Meaning”.
I wanted to say something but I realised that would be me making a fuss, worse that I’d already created. Everybody has a choice, it’s called taking responsibility. It shouldn’t matter where your from. You have the power to make your life incredible and worthwhile. More than half the world’s innovators came from deprived backgrounds, living on the streets or sleeping in their cars.
I just couldn’t help but realise that it’s so easy to describe people as victims, rather than admitting unwise choices which could be detrimental.