ih  "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."    -Mahatma Gandhi
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Gazing back at our European heritage, we find a society made up of aristocrats and commoners.  We continue to emphasize similar values today, particularly in our classrooms.  In our educational system, everyone is focusing on the future.  The implication being that if you struggle now, making countless sacrifices and learning a lot of irrelevant information, you will be happy in the future.  You will receive some fancy letters after your name, which will serve as your ticket to success.  You will, in effect, become an aristocrat.  This is sick thinking.  It is a lie perpetrated by our educational system.

Social lies stem from individual lies.  A person can lie to himself, on an unconscious level.  One of the themes that runs throughout much of psychology - and receives nearly universal agreement - is that feelings of inferiority commonly develop in early life.  To counter these feelings, individuals strive to gain a position of superiority over other human beings. So part of the mind feels inferior, and another part of the mind feels superior.  The two don't cancel each other out.  How can one have both feelings at once?  The mind is split into compartments.

When the desire to be superior has a neurotic basis, it is accompanied by many misperceptions.  Things that should be obvious are 'tuned out'.  Often, the first thing that gets tuned out is emotion.  There is a lack of social connectedness.  When I walk into a group of strangers, the first question I am asked, is: "What kind of work do you do?"  This makes me feel uneasy, because I know what is coming.  When I say than I'm a doctor, or a psychiatrist, I am categorized.  Some people who I know are unable to call me by my first name, even when I ask them to do so.

If we as a society believe that certain people are aristocrats (and as such are entitled to certain extra privileges), it will make it much more difficult to reform our dysfunctional systems.  But reform is what we need most.  Our notion of aristocracy is offensive to me because it severely interferes with functionality on both a social and a technological level.

There are a limited number of positions in medical schools.  All too frequently, the would-be doctor has to push himself relentlessly because of the competition.  There is a tendency among the "aristocratic" groups in our society to guard their turf in order to maintain their position of privilege.  I have witnessed this phenomena over and over again, both as a doctor, and as a patient.  I have listened to my patients talk about their experiences with other doctors.  I have encountered this phenomenon from so many perspectives and on so many occasions that there is no doubt in my mind that this is a real problem.   And then I encountered experiences with lawyers that dwarfed any experiences that I had with doctors.  Needless, to say, there are many exceptions of which you are probably aware.

I'm telling you things you already know.  But rather than sweep it under the rug and say: "What do you expect me to do about it," I'd like to challenge you to think.  What if we restructured our attitudes and educational programs in a way that would eliminate this sense of aristocracy?  What if we eliminated titles altogether?  What if we made information regarding these fields more available to the public, and in a form that was much easier to understand.

How many times have you heard people say something like, "I can't answer that question because I would be practicing law without a license."  My opinion is that you can answer the question if you know the answer.

Our aristocratic notions are damaging to everybody, including the people who consider themselves aristocrats.  I am not approaching this from the perspective of a liberal ideology, but rather from the standpoint of functionality.  When a system works well, it flows.  It is like listening to a beautiful piece of music.  When it does not, it is persistently troublesome.

Some cultures have carried this notion to a damaging, freedom-robbing extreme.  When this is approached ideologically - whether from the left, right, or what have you - the outcome is unsatisfactory.  I am suggesting that we set ideology aside, and approach these problems functionally.  I think that given the right conditions, we can all be free and prosperous.

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