Because it turns out, some of the best and most humanistic medicine is being practiced by doctors whose patients aren't human. And one of the best ways we can take care of the human patient is by paying close attention to how all the other patients on the planet live, grow, get sick and heal. - Barbara Natterson-Horowitz
From multiple locations across the internet I received a link to this TED talk by human cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz. She "shares how a species-spanning approach to health can improve medical care of the human animal — particularly when it comes to mental health." As a veterinarian myself, and as a Unitarian Universalist minister and facilitator to the First Principle Project I share the same approach as hers, and in fact, always have. I do not see a fundamental divide between any two species, and to place humans in a category above or by ourselves limits the benefit possible to ourselves and others. These benefits include physical, mental, and spiritual health, ecosystem health, welfare of the multiple species within our communities, and for us humans, a sense of belonging and wholeness. Seeing the inherent worth and dignity of every being opens up a world of possibility and wonder, and of care for all.
One of her most compelling observations in this video follows in the quote below, and I invite you to ask yourself a similar question:
How might I be taking better care of humans if I see them as a human animal?
How might I be taking better care of many species if I see our species as a human animal?
I'd love to hear your reflections on this question, as well as the video (you can read the transcript here). Your comments can be written below.
I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts and reflections, because it would be lovely to travel with you on this fascinating journey of being alive amongst such diversity and preciousnous, On our way together I believe we Unitarian Universalists will come to hear how all are called to multispecies ministry and medicine, or said another way, to the caring and healing of many species.
Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner
Physicians and scientists, we accept intellectually that our species, Homo sapiens, is merely one species, no more unique or special than any other. But in our hearts, we don't completely believe that. I feel it myself when I'm listening to Mozart or looking at pictures of the Mars Rover on my MacBook. I feel that tug of human exceptionalism, even as I recognize the scientifically isolating cost of seeing ourselves as a superior species, apart. Well, I'm trying these days. When I see a human patient now, I always ask, what do the animal doctors know about this problem that I don't know? And, might I be taking better care of my human patient if I saw them as a human animal patient?