Twofish's Blog

December 2, 2006

Doctors and lawyers versus physicists and farmers

Filed under: asian am, china, personal — twofish @ 7:35 am

There is another duality which is different from land and water, but it has to do with memory and forgetting. Doctors and lawyers versuses physicists and farmers. There is a certain detachment that doctors and lawyers have to have from their work. Doctors and lawyers have to keep a separation between the personal and the professional whereas physicists and farmers, can’t and don’t.

You look through thousands of X-rays and MRI’s each day, and each of them has a story. A human being who is on the verge of living or dying. A law professor does the same thing. There are dozens of cases he could consult on, and each one could be a matter of life or death. And the better you are, the more likely it is that it is a matter of life or death.

You can’t feel about them. You will go insane if you even try to emotionally connect with the people you are trying to help. Just imagine hundred of lives, each one a son or daugther, each person with a mother and father. Imagine the pain of a hundred people as if it were your pain, or the joy of a hundred people as if it were your joy. You can’t. At the end of the day, you have to do your job, and stop seeing the human being. It’s a picture on the computer screen or a case file. You do the job, you make the consult, you help someone, and then you go home.

Physicists and farmers are different. You can leave the hospital or the courtroom and go home. You can separate the personal and the professional. I can’t. Where does a physicist go where he isn’t surrounded by physics? Where does a historian go where he isn’t surrounded by history? Where does a farmer go where she isn’t surrounded by life?

Physics is about feeling. I feel equations. I smell patterns, and I find it just difficult to connect and reconnect my feelings in the way that doctors and lawyers can.

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