I once saw, at a clinic, a line written by a well-known writer that read: “Benevolent heart and skillful execution.”
It is certainly admirable for a doctor to have such ethics and aspiration. There was another line there, too; this one gave cause for concern.
It read: “The best doctors treat their patients before their illness even manifests; average doctors treat their patients while their illness is starting to manifest itself; the worst doctors are those who treat their patients after their illness has already manifest itself.”
This seems to suggest doctors want to provide treatment every time they see a living human being.
Such a habit is just asking for trouble, as many doctors simply follow the standard operating procedure for everything, believing that there is always a cure for every problem. They will never give up before trying all remedies, only sometimes to find out the problem is incurable.
Of course, such practices are not limited to doctors. A Jerusalem mayor once told former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) that scientists like him are always trying to solve problems, but that Israelis have learned to coexist with problems in the face of the city’s ethnic and religious conflicts that have lasted for as long as thousands of years.
It could be a blessing for people with a doctor’s character to go into politics, because many issues can be solved in a reasonable way.
It could also be a curse, because issues involving foreign affairs as well as state sovereignty can hardly be solved by wishful thinking.
If one insists on remedying such problems, one may eventually cause a greater disaster.
Taiwan is relatively small, and the crowded space makes us feel anxious easily. Plus, it is hard to get along with our “bad neighbor.” Whenever tension in cross-strait relations rises, those who consider themselves to be smart propose some “solutions” in a rush.
However, since the argument involves the sovereignty issue, a deadlock seems to be normal — unless one side is willing to concede.
The legal status of Jerusalem has remained unresolved for centuries, the sovereignty disputes between Japan and Russia over four islands have continued for decades and so have the disputes over sovereignty claims to islands occupied by different countries in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s sovereignty issue has also remained unresolved to this day due to China’s ambition to annex it.
For China, since Taiwan is not presently under its control, and its sovereignty claim to the nation is legally groundless, it would be great if the former could cheat the latter of its sovereignty, and Beijing really has nothing to lose even if it cannot.
However, for Taiwan, the Chinese efforts to threaten, disunite and oppress the country can often trigger an anxiety disorder here. That is why some politicians with a medical background who feel uneasy are eager to “solve” the problem.
Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who was a professor of political science, sold out Taiwan during his time in the position.
However, he did make a friendly comment, saying that this was actually an issue left over by history, and that we should leave the matter for later.
Kissinger clearly does not have the character of the anxious doctor.
James Wang is a media commentator.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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