02 June 2020
Dear AACT Members,
While AACT leadership has spent the past month fretting about NACCT and how we would pull off a fully remote meeting, whining that we won’t get to see everybody in person this fall, things have really been put into context, at least for me and I’m sure for a lot of you as well. The United States has a system that is operating just as it was meant to, resulting in fully institutionalized poverty, usually though not always, based on race. We have pitiful social safety nets, and we have little to no real leadership at the federal level.
The concept of American exceptionalism has been ingrained and it is true – except not for what we were told as kids. Upward mobility, for most Americans, is a myth. We no longer elect presidents based on a popular vote. The Covid pandemic has exposed our fragile healthcare system and even more fragile economy (for most Americans). I spent over 13 years on active duty serving in the US Navy, and I’m proud to be a veteran. But I am worried for our country right now. Not because of violence in the streets, but because we are finally reaping what we have sowed.
Even looking at our own organization, the AACT, we cannot say that we have valued and sought out diversity. Yes, we are a 100% volunteer organization, and we do have excellent diversity of gender. But when it comes to race, we are far behind. We are a specialty that exists to treat primarily the economically and socially disadvantaged. Standing for real change is part of treating these diseases of poverty and despair, is it not?
The current protests around the country have an urgency not felt before, at least in my lifetime. Please don’t be distracted by the looting and violence for they are not the point. It is my hope that we can come out of this a better country. We cannot depend on our leaders. Real change comes from the ground up, so I support the protests and also recognize the very difficult job our police have to do. This is not an anti-police message. But it is a pro-American message.
I realize that some members may disagree with my using the AACT member list-serve to send out such a message. My answer to you is that I understand and would encourage you to run for AACT office yourself – elections are coming up!
Mark Kostic, MD