Saturday, September 18, 2010
On Kindness and Compassion: Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin
When asked by my daughter for a school report who I mosted admired, I considered a variety of people such as Gandhi, Mandela, but chose my father. Why did I choose him, even though it might seem cloying to decide on one's own father?
Kindness and compassion.
My father is simply the most kind and compassionate person that I know. He is this way with his patients -- his speciality has been women's health and infertility -- and he is this way with his many friends and with our family.
How we are and how we act as invidividuals makes each of our worlds. He makes his world to be one of kindness, understanding, and compassion.
There are a vast number of people both in his professional and personal life that he has helped, supported, cooked for, made comfortable, looked after, looked out for, done a thousand little extra things for, performed a myriad of little kindnesses for, and empowered with his generosity of spirit and understanding.
No one is without complexity -- these many complexities make us human, complexity is what being human is -- however, when I look at the kind of generous, moral, ethical, and humane world that my father has created, I am inspired. The world may not be perfect, but it can be infused with kindness and compassion.
He has always deeply believed in understanding and valuing who people are, who they want to be, and what lives they have a right to live. He has also demonstrated a rigorous and exacting approach to science, medicine, research, and ethics in his professional life.
He has demonstrated extraordinary moral courage in standing up for his patients' rights and for advocating what is right, sometimes quietly in his actions and his medical practice, sometimes publically. These actions are also a form of kindness and compassion.
I don't know what else is in the media or on the internet about my father, Dr. Norman Barwin, but I know the values that he lives by, and what he values. These will not change, no matter what is said or claimed.