I recently listened to a fascinating TED Talk about the lack of transparency in the medical field. Dr. Leana Wen shared an experience she had with her mother when facing a financially-driven treatment promotion for her cancer recovery. Her mother wanted to know why she was steered toward one course of drugs over another. She was able to trace the decision back to the lucrative relationships with certain pharmaceutical companies and specific doctors. Out of a concern for the promotion of health over profit, Dr. Leana Wen founded the organization Who’s My Doctor? The organization works to unmask the financially secured power relationships responsible for the promotion of specific medical recommendations and prescriptions.
This talk started me thinking about transparency in more general terms, outside the medical field—the transparency we have with each other and the option of acting on it on a day-to-day basis.
I have often been told that I am brave, pragmatic, and bold when it comes to sharing my thoughts and questions. I think my approach comes from a foundation of self-awareness, trust and respect for myself and others rather than an internalization of expectations, assumptions and judgment. When I am clear and honest with myself about my intentions, I find it easy to be honest with those around me. When people are transparent with me, I can decide if we add to each other’s journey or are better suited for different communities.
Ultimately, I look to take part in communities that rise together in this authenticity. Authenticity is not often comfortable, easy, or even valued in some communities. For me, when I encounter disagreement, I look to discover differences, hold space for our differences, and explore the individual historical contexts that inevitably led to such varied perspectives. I am a part of multiple communities built on difference, and in every case, the sustainability of these communities rests on the transparency and patience with respectful, honest communication.
Dr. Leana Wen’s point about building transparency and accountability into the medical profession can apply to the idea of building authenticity and care into our relationships in general. I think we can and should hold our families and loved ones to the same standards Dr. Wen asks doctors to adhere to with their patients. Let’s begin by trusting, knowing, and honoring ourselves by being transparent with each other.
I look forward to a day when being who we are cannot and will not be overshadowed by who others want us to be.
What if we all became totally transparent with each other? What do we want to know about each other? If the relationship between the patient and doctor needs transparency, why wouldn’t a relationship between family, friends, and loved ones also need it? Why does being transparent look like bravery? What are we afraid of when it comes to the judgment of others about the real us? What makes us fear transparency?
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