Atul Gawande: “Everyone Has Equal Worth”

December 5, 2018  • Aspen Ideas to Go

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.”

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