PARDON ME IF THIS IS PERSONAL
By: Victor M. Sternberg, D.M.D.
April 8, 2022
This is the first of a number of conversations I would like to share with all of you, as well as receive back your views and opinions. The other issues mentioned I will send out shortly. Each one is somewhat expansive and perhaps a contrarian view of some of the struggles we've had.
My grandparents came here from the Ukraine. The Russian invasion is now personal.
My father died of lung cancer. He had smoked for many years. Disdain for the tobacco industry and its enablers is personal.
I lost friends and patients and almost lost my secretary to Covid-19. The rejection of the science and evidence based medicine involving Covid-19 prevention is personal.
My dear friends lost their only child to a drug overdose. This was my 12th patient to lose a child. In a majority of cases it involved fentanyl. My hatred for drug cartels that bring fentanyl and other drugs into America is personal. There is no real war on drugs.
There are many issues discussed here on which we are going to have an intelligent conversation. The intensity of that conversation takes on a whole different tone when it becomes personal. Human life and freedom are not an abstraction. Nor are the politics that surround these issues. The truth matters. Tragically it has become a causality of our modern society.
As I write this we are watching a return to a past we never thought we'd see again. 83 years after the German invasion of Poland , it is with great irony that the Russians are invading Ukraine. The names of the players change but history, tragically, repeats itself. I wonder whether the Russians would have considered the German invasion a special military operation in 1940. I wonder whether they would have considered it a siege of Leningrad by the Nazis as well as the brave resistance by the Russians, identical to the now invasion of the Russians into Ukraine and the brave resistance of the Ukrainians. Nearly 80 million lives were lost in Europe and Asia as a result of the rise of Nazism and Japanese Imperialism. We never thought we would revisit these horrors again. But here we are again, with one frightening nuance. A miscalculation or desperate decision can unleash the unthinkable. Instead of the daily briefings by Dr. Fauci, we hear deliberations taking place throughout Europe and the United States about this new military pandemic. Is it possible that the attraction to authoritarianism and aggression against what were once neighbors lives in the human genome?
I recently became aware of an encounter between Jane Goodall, who spent a lifetime studying chimpanzees in Africa, and a professor of sociology at an esteemed university. Professor Goodall returned to America after decades of living among the apes and expressed to the professor her great dismay about an observation she made living among the chimps. She believed they were innately tribal and were violent against any other group that entered their territory. She believed that this aggression was in the genome of the chimpanzees. When she questioned the esteemed professor of sociology whether he thought humans were also innately tribal, and innately aggressive, he said that he believed that was so. However, he added that if he expressed that opinion in an academic environment he would be severely criticized, if not dismissed.
As America faces the difficult choice of how to respond to the Russian aggression, I would urge you all to read a book called Those Angry Days, about 1939-1941 in America. Our country and our president struggled with the issue of whether to enter World War II. The horrific casualties of World War I created an America-first attitude with isolation as a powerful force. Many Americans who sided with the Germans marched down 1st Avenue and rallied at Madison Square Garden, where individuals wore Nazi insignias and outwardly believed America should stay out of the war and support the German aggression. Although England was being bombarded and facing an invasion by or a submission to the Germans, the president could not get congress to approve sending war planes to Canada and from there to Britain. How ironic and serious is the idea that history does repeat itself and the only thing that doesn't change is the human response.
One thing is clear to this writer. In my lifetime I have seen enormous advances in science and its application giving us the ability to travel to the moon and use atomic energy to radiate tumors, as well as giving us the ability to send hypersonic missiles all over the world and obliterate mankind within an hour. This is the dark side of nuclear science. IPhones have more computing ability than IBM computers of 50 years ago and we can communicate instantly around the world. However, as technology has evolved, sadly humans have not. The old adage of he who fails to learn the lesson of history is doomed to repeat it appears to be playing out again.
As always I appreciate your feedback.
Dr. Victor M. Sternberg, D.M.D.
By Westchester Center for Periodontal & Implant Excellence
January 11, 2023