For many weeks I’ve noticed a Robin in my garden, but recently this little guy has turned up.
At first I thought he was maybe a different Robin, or maybe a Bullfinch (I’m not an expert in birds!) but I’ve just discovered he is a “Redstart” with his red breast, black mask and white skull cap. I’d never even heard of a “Redstart” before but apparently they are from the Robin family – you can see similarities with the more common Robin, but he is clearly different.
We live in a society which prioritises sameness. Mass production, mass consumption, standardisation, health care by protocol, science based on abstraction and categorisation.
We do have a lot in common, and that’s partly how we connect to others – shared interests, preferences, values and so on.
I was aware throughout my practice as a doctor that every single person I saw had some things in common with others who I had seen, but who also was unique – different from every other person I had seen. I’d make a diagnosis – chest infection, diabetes, asthma, psoriasis etc by prioritising the signs and symptoms which I had learned were associated with those diseases, but then I had to pay attention to the person and ask who this was who had this disease, ask how it appeared in their particular life, how it affected them in their unique way.
What I’m wondering just now is what might the world be like if we prioritised difference instead of sameness?
What would health care look like if we prioritised the uniqueness of every patient AND every practitioner?
What would the economy be like if we prioritised the uniqueness of each member of the population?
What would education be like?
What would society be like?
Are there certain underlying principles which would come to the fore if we prioritised difference?
I’m going to explore those questions here over the next few days.