Happy Hour with Ethics class, 3-semester is too short / 駅のおじいさんを抱きしめたい

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October 19th, 2013, Saturday

Today was the last day of Healthcare Ethics class by Professor Heather Butts. She’s a wonderful teacher and the class was the best for me this semester. Last week and today each of us did presentation on case each of us chose by ourselves, related to ethics. Each of classmate’s presentation was interesting. Those who had clinical background presented about some cutting edge surgical technology to deal with difficult condition with ethical dilemma caused by uncertainty on possibility to save or prolong life, difficulty in trials to evaluate, and ethical debate to justify it or not. Other one presented about HIV, introducing a video narratives by HIV patients on the advocacy website SERO.

Since I don’t have any clinical or medical background as specialist, all of their presentation was impressive for me. So, I, as a writer or community activist, thought how to contribute to this class, then chose one favorite movie “Never Let Me Go.” It is a story of three young persons, grown up in a isolated house “Hailsham.” In a fictional world where medical breakthrough achieved beyond 100 years human lifespan, they are told to keep them healthy, being told that “you are special,” but they exist only as organ donors for transplants and will die in their early adulthood. They are human clones, and have ‘originals.’ I touched those points (but didn’t go into details of the movie cos I really wanted them to watch it by themselves. Professor Butts also loved this movie, or original novel), and mentioned to three ethical perspective to judge social justice, utilitarianism, liberalism and communitarianism. I was happy to hear that they and professor enjoyed my presentation and some of them said “I will watch the movie.” Professor Butts told me she will put the novel as a reading material for the next year class.

As I liked this class so much, I suggested to the professor to have a happy hour after the last class, today. We went down Broadway, and entered one pub near the campus, and had beers and cocktails.

There was another guy in class who made presentation also focusing on philosophical theories or philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, or Spinoza. He is a film writer. I talked to him at the pub, and said we or our interests are not on the mainstream. Academic or scientific debate needs to cut each components as small as possible, with internally validate definition, but process of writing is opposite. We learn from and pick up lots of stuffs, and harmonize them into whole one context or story. But it’s still good for us to be in MPH program, cos we can learn from real-world, field practices, as I mentioned above. I think philosophy or ethics is a centerpiece of public health field, where theories and practice intersect, and that’s why at this ethics class, both of us physicians and writers can make good discussion.

I will graduate in this december (but may stay until March), and will be back to Japan for my new job from April. So they said “let’s have dinner before you go!” I felt so happy about that. At the same time, I felt 3-semester was too short. Especially for international student like me, the first semester was a terrible time. I was overwhelmed with courseworks (readings and exams), and didn’t have time to talk with classmates so much. Also, it took time to enable me to actively participate in class discussion and be accustomed with presentation, being relaxed. But from the second semester, I was gradually fit into the campus life or NY life, and rapidly made friends with them. But, oh my god, it’s already the final semester for me. If I had time more, I could know about my friends more… But anyway, time is irreversible, what I just can do is do my best in the limited time, and enjoy the time with friends.

そんなわけで、土曜日のHealthcare Ethicsの授業は今学期一番楽しい授業だったので、今日も良い日だったのだけど、昨日から開いた吉本ばななが尾を引いてか、内面は並行してstill messed upであった。そんな時に限ってやっぱり泣きたくなるような出来事は起こるわけで。それは42nd Street, Aトレインに乗り換えるPort Authorityのホームでのことでした。

階段からホームに降り立つと、背の低くて丸い身体のおじいさんが取り乱し気味に、”How can I get to Queens!? Tell me what to do!!”と言っている。聞くまでもなくここはQueens方面Uptownの電車が来るホームであり、それは看板にも書いてあるのだけど、そのおじいさんの様子を見るに、それはたぶん、彼がなんらかの精神疾患か障害かを抱えているゆえの不安と取り乱しであるようだった。

その時僕は、思わずおじいさんを抱きしめたくなった。「ああ、あぁ、よくそのことを言ってくれた…!」と。「そうだよ、この電車が無事目的地に辿り着く保証なんて無いじゃないか。みんなそのことを見ないふりして生きてるだけなんだ。考えたら不安で耐えられない!」

それで泣きそうになっていたら電車がやってきて、やっぱりおじいさんは”Is this train to Queens!? Tell me!”と不安がっていて、ドアの前でオロオロしている。僕は駆け寄って一緒に電車に乗り込み、肩を抱き支えながら、「大丈夫、大丈夫、きっとQueensへ行きます、信じましょう」と一緒にオロオロしたかったのだけど、あぁなんということだ、その電車はEトレイン!僕はこれからAトレインに乗って大学に行かなきゃならないのだ!

僕たちは同じ電車に乗ることができない。その圧倒的現実に打ちひしがれそうになったとき、なんと救世主。細身で妙齢のおじさまが、彼の背を叩いて”Yes!”と(イエス様!)そのおじさまはおじいさんとちょっと離れてホームに立っていたから、普通にしていれば別の車両に乗り込むはずだったろうけど、おじいさんの様子を見て、一緒の車両に乗り込んだのだった。だからといって別に何をするわけでもないけど、とにかくおじいさんは(やはりオロオロしながらも)無事車両に乗り込み、空いた座席に座って旅立っていった。

資本主義の夢と呪いを体現したかのようなこの街で、それでもいつも絶妙なタイミングで立ち現れる人のカインドネスというものに、僕はたいそう驚愕する。

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