AIF Blog

Atul Gawande: "Everyone Has Equal Worth"

Dec 04, 2018
CATEGORY: U.S.A., Science, Health, Society

Atul Gawande, staff writer for The New Yorker, talks about bridging the gap between our aspiration for how we treat one another and the reality of it. He spoke in June at Spotlight Health.

In our divisive times, writer, surgeon, and researcher Atul Gawande says it's especially important to remember this medical principle: all lives have equal worth. He told Lucy Kalanithi, professor of medicine, that when he was a medical student, he remembers caring for a prisoner who arrived at the hospital and verbally assaulted a colleague. "It was not safe for her to participate," says Gawande, "so she handed me the clipboard and said, 'You take care of him.'" He had swallowed a razor blade and slashed his wrists. "It was one of those moments when you ask, 'What does it mean to say all lives have equal worth?.'" He says we're at a moment when people find it difficult to find equal worth in their neighbor. "At the root of it, is shutting off our curiosity about people's lives."

Listen to the conversation between Atul Gawande and Lucy Kalanithi in the podcast, Aspen Ideas to Go.


Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes hereThe views and opinions of the speakers in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.

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