As we all sit in our semi-quarantined spaces, I wanted to share my thoughts with you not only as your current President of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, but also as a concerned citizen. Like all of you, I did not know of George Floyd prior to last Monday. Also like all of you, I watched in horror as the tragic and chilling circumstances surrounding his death unfolded before our very eyes – a violent vision seared in my psyche, forever. And so I ask, have we finally reached our “tipping point” – is this the moment when we say, as did Albert Finney in the 1976 movie classic “Network”, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”?
Peaceful protests are what make democracies unique – the right to assemble bestowed upon us by our Founders – is a gift, and in the days following this utterly senseless loss of life, protests in nearly every state of our union unfolded, many peacefully, to urge change. Sadly though, some have capitalized on this precarious moment to incite riots, loot, and even inflict more personal harm. I believe firmly that is not who we are as a nation and I am steadfast in my belief that Mr. Floyd, his family, all of us, deserve better. And so I join the police personnel and others around our country, kneeling and praying with protestors, spreading hope and tolerance – I join Sheriff Chris Swanson of Flint, Michigan who took off his riot gear to walk peacefully with protestors in solidarity, a symbolic step in the right direction that I pray will make it harder to hate and easier to breathe.
For those who reasonably are having difficulty finding a silver lining right now – pandemic, civic unrest, racial tension, financial insecurity – I say this, eternal and unapologetic optimist that I am, I have found that silver lining, I have found that silver lining in all of you. Selflessly, heroically and relentlessly, you have all supported and saved myriad sick and scared strangers, and at great personal peril. The hope and healing and humanity you bestowed on the most fragile among us in emergency rooms, ICUs, and operating rooms across our nation has been, in a word extraordinary. You are the very definition of heroes and I am blessed and humbled to walk among you. I thank you for being my silver lining and look forward to emerging from this tragedy stronger, safer and more tolerant, now and for future generations.
William N. Levine, MD
36th ASES President
William N. Levine, MD, ASES President