Compassion and Change

18 June 2012


I recently purchased a book from a colleague, he’d self published it, it was relevant to my work so I somewhat dutifully purchased a copy. It then made it’s way into the vortex that is my car. There it sat with other papers until last week when (as part of my new fitness push ) I visited the gymn and was in search of reading material whilst I was on the stepper. With no great expectations I picked it up.
So the book is called “ A Time to Care” and the author is Dr Robin Youngson. It is about how modern healthcare has lost its humanity and compassion and is full of anecdotes stories and strategies about the faults with the system and how individuals can take responsibility and control over how the work within the system by changing the way they think. To my surprise the book struck a chord with me on several levels
When i returned home I had National Radio on whilst and Jim Mora was interviewing some quests. He was asking them what was on their mind and guess what one of them had just read this book that was probably targeted at healthcare workers but may be of interest to patients. She went onto describe a recent interaction in hospital where she was visiting and an old lady opposite was ringing repeatedly for staff to help her to the toilet. For various reasons she had to wait so long that when someone finally came she ended up having an accident on the way. She then describes watching this vulnerable lady being admonished.
For me this was one of those slightly weird coincidence moments, a book written by someone I know coming across my consciousness twice in quick succession. I pricked up my ears, listened and reflected.

Dr Robin Youngson is a specialist anaesthetist who, when his daughter came to need the healthcare system, was moved to do something to try to change it. He has followed his convictions and has produced a publication that is making news in New Zealand and I gather globally.

For me there are a few interesting aspects to this. Any one of us, however insignificant we believe we are, has the potential to affect change and make a difference. Change starts

with dreams and thoughts and moves onto actions, but it needs commitment. Robyn has stimulated conversation throughout the world and that in itself will lead to change, the question is how profound will that be. Too often we can feel disempowered and there are often legitimate reasons for this, but for me this is a real life demonstration that if we have a passion we can make a difference.
“sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others”
This is the dictionary definition. I note that it is a quality that focuses on others. I reflect how I have seen healthcare transition from the era of altruism and service to one of entitlements, targets and money. Meanwhile society has perhaps become shaped by the wealth and capitalism of the early 2000s where admired values were success, ambition, and hedonism. Whereas values such as gentleness, patience, tolerance and sacrifice have been forgottenl.

And so I wonder in this age of austerity where to next? For myself these are challenging thoughts (and times), but worthwhile questions to consider.

And so you may ask what does this have to do with photography?

In honesty on the face of it not much. But if for you photography is about interpreting life as you see it, then it certainly is . When we are touched by something, as photographers we will want to make images relating to it and chances are they will have deep meaning.

So over to you guys.

Compassion( in photography)! Thank you Robin!