Paul J. Mills, Tiffany Barsotti, Meredith A. Pung, Kathleen L. Wilson, Laura Redwine, and Deepak Chopra Gratitude, along with love, compassion, empathy, joy, forgiveness, and self-knowledge, is a vital attribute of our wellbeing. While there are many definitions of gratitude, at its foundation, gratitude is a healing, life-affirming, and uplifting human experience that shifts us […]
When I first read Ms. Rabinowitz personal attacks on me as the lead article on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal, I have to confess that my first reaction was that she was an ethnocentric racist and prejudiced bigot. After some reflection, I realized that she was probably more ignorant than bigoted. I could have let the matter rest there, but aside from the personal attacks, there are a number of factual errors, that, in the spirit of clarity ought to be corrected.
Now on a more personal note:
I am one of Midnight’s Childrenas Salman Rushdie refers to those of us born during the tumultuous separation of what used to be the British Raj into the newly formed states of India and Pakistan. I came into this world amidst the carnage of the Hindu-Muslim riots that swept across the Indian subcontinent in the aftermath of the separation. Partition of the Indian subcontinent was an idea generated by the British colonial government and resulted in mass migrations of Muslims to Pakistan and Hindus to India. Both my parents grew up in what is now Pakistan. They, along with their parents, fled from Rawalpindi, now Islamabad. (My father went to medical school in Lahore, Pakistan.) They were innocent victims and refugees of a mass genocide and a collective psychosis that gripped the land at the time. Members of both sides of our family were murdered by Muslim extremists. And of course, countless Muslims in India were also slaughtered in the violence then. I grew up listening to stories of vicious brutality, but also stories of compassion, and acts of heroism that occurred on both sides of the Hindu-Muslim divide. Although my parents and grandparents lost all their possessions, their bank accounts, their homes, and many of their family members, still, in spite of all that, they never expressed any hostility. There were only stories–poignant, powerful, and tragic stories. I and my siblings grew up listening to these stories, and in turn, so did our children. Now Gotham and Mallika are telling these stories to their children as well.
(Our son Gotham was born in Boston, but Mallika, our first child, was born in New Delhi. At the time, I was an intern training in medicine in the US and our health insurance did not cover the preexisting condition of pregnancy. So, since I could not afford the cost of my wife’s delivery in the US, I sent her at the 11th hour to India where my father took care of the expenses.)
We live in a world were 50 percent of its population lives on less than two dollars a day and 20 percent lives on less than one dollar a day. We can’t dismiss these as trivial facts if we want to understand the deeper causes of instability and violence in the world.
Ms. Rabinowitz accuses me of being “a faithful adherent of the root causes of crime.” As a matter of fact, I do adhere to the theory that crime does have sources that can be understood, and I have addressed this topic it as it pertains to terrorism in TIME magazine. Ms. Rabinowitz ought to realize that you can kill a terrorist, but that doesn’t kill his ideology. And as long as that ideology has power and life, it will continue to regenerate new terrorists no matter how many terrorists you kill. The ideology of Islamic terrorism is barbaric, savage, brutal and primitive, yet still it is born in a context. That context is historical, cultural, religious, economic, and political. Refusing to understand that context, dooms us to an endless failed anti-terrorist policy.
An ideology can only be overcome through the creation of a new more appealing ideology. In order to accomplish that we need the participation and help of moderate Muslims throughout the world. There are between 1.6 to 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, and by far, most of them are the moderates we need to enlist in our efforts. We can’t solve this global problem by branding almost 25% of the world’s population as terrorist. I would hope Ms. Rabinowitz could recognize that this issue is far too serious of a problem for her to exploit it for her personal petty agenda. The Mumbai tragedy obviously gathered extensive international attention. Instead of channeling this global focus toward productive insight and solutions, Ms. Rabinowitz chose instead to direct the attention of this tragedy into a personal attack that can only further fan the flames of hatred and exacerbate the situation instead of helping it.
Ms. Rabinowitz also says, “nor did we hear in these media meditations, any particular expression of sorrow from the New Delhi born Dr. Chopra for the anguish of Mumbai’s victims.” In the few second sound bites that are characteristic of the Larry King Live show, I did mention the media obsession for pointing out victims mainly of Western origin. I specifically told Larry that we should be feeling the anguish of everyone and that all lives were precious. Perhaps Ms. Rabinowitz didn’t hear that only because she chose to ignore it.
Ms. Rabinowitz has fun trying to diminish my credibility saying I am an “advocate of aromatherapy and regular enemas” and sarcastically says “no one can fail to grasp the wisdom of him who has informed us that if you have happy thoughts you can make happy molecules.”
While I do not claim to be an expert in aromatherapy, there is some useful research that can clarify this issue. Aromatherapy has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment modality for anxiety, high blood pressure, fast heart rate, and in modulating immune function. Along with neuroassociative conditioning, it has been used for treating illnesses and for mitigating the harmful side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea and vomiting. See citations below.
Therapeutic enemas have been used both in Eastern and Western medical traditions for thousands of years. I must admit I have prescribed enemas to constipated patients, though that can hardly be considered unique for a physician. Perhaps Ms. Rabinowitz is referring to “cleansing enemas” which are also part of many medical traditions, although I am not personally enthusiastic about them.
I do not expect Ms. Rabinowitz to know my family history with terrorism, nor do I expect her to know anything about research on traditional, alternative or conventional medicine. But her baseless and reckless pretense that she does know these things, as a means to incite intolerance, is irresponsible and callous.
For my part I would simply say that I value practical, verifiable results in medicine as well as in global issues of terrorism. Repeating old failed policies and procedures based on outmoded ideologies makes no sense to me, whether it is political ideology or medical ideology. This creatively pragmatic view for solutions is also thankfully the direction of the future, and we see this especially in the field of medicine now.
For the record, I am board certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, and Metabolism. I have a license to practice medicine in the states of Massachusetts and California. I am a member of the American Medical Association (AMA), and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.