I’m a doctor, specifically a neurologist.
I’m also a father with three kids.
I’m also a small business owner and part of the American economy. My practice is small, but provides jobs to two awesome women and in doing so allows them to have insurance, raise their families with job security, own homes, and contribute to the economy. I’m not required to by law, but I provide both with insurance coverage and a retirement plan. I pay my taxes on time and to the penny.
I’m a third-generation American, and a first-generation native Arizonan.
I’m a Phoenix Suns, ASU Sun Devils, and Creighton Bluejays basketball fan.
And, somewhere in all of the above, I’m Jewish.
I’m not even that observant. I can’t remember the last time I was in Temple. I celebrate the major Jewish holidays with my family at home and occasionally hit the deli down the street from my office for lunch, but that’s about it. Heck, most days the majority of the deli’s customers probably aren’t Jewish, anyway.
I’ve never understood hate very well. To me, people are people. I’ve never treated patients differently based on race, religion, political beliefs, or pretty much any other factor. That’s part of my job, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For the same reason, I don’t understand anti-Semitism. I’ve never ripped anyone off and try very hard to practice ethical medicine, doing what’s right for patients and not for my pocketbook. Some could even argue that this approach has cost me financially over time.
My first direct experience with hate was in 1975, when my family moved from central Phoenix to the suburbs. When we were building our house and meeting future neighbors, one lady circulated a petition to keep Jews out of the neighborhood. A few weeks later, when the school year started, her kids looked me and my sister over and asked us where our horns were.
I don’t encounter it, at least not directly, as much anymore. Perhaps one to two times a year someone will call my office to make an appointment and will ask what my religion is. My secretary tells them that we don’t discuss this professionally here.
But it never goes away entirely. There are always those looking to blame anyone who is slightly different from them for economic and social changes, perhaps because it’s easier than actually working together to solve things. Or because they find it a welcome distraction from the real issues facing our society.
The recent events in Charlottesville are frightening to all of us, regardless of religion, who are trying to get along in everyday life. All I’ve ever wanted is to be able to work and raise my family in peace, yet we’re faced with a stark reminder of those who see this as a threat. Worse, their fires are stoked by seeming indifference (at best) and overt support (at worst) at the highest level of our government – one founded on freedom of religion.
Hate is hate, whether it’s ISIS, the Westboro Baptist Church, KKK, Kahane Chai, or the modern interpretations of Nazism lurking in Europe and America. Although they’ve always been there, today the Internet has given them a larger voice. People whom I’ve never done anything to consider me an enemy.
My kids’ school is a block from a mosque, so I drive by it all the time. It’s an attractive, well-maintained building. Sometimes I see younger kids running around out in the yard, or others playing basketball on a court between buildings. Its proximity has never bothered me. But, like myself, I know those inside are hated by others who don’t even know them. Like me, all they’ve done is raise kids, work, and pay taxes.
There have always been, and will always be, bad people in all religions, races, and ethnic groups. This is the nature of humans. But the association of hating all because of a few is very troubling. I believe the majority of people are good and that none are born hating others.
I try hard to run a blind practice: treating all patients as equal, and giving them the best care I can, regardless of who they are, what they believe, or where they’re from.
Unfortunately, too many people seem to find it easier to slap labels on anyone who doesn’t look or think like them, and decide that’s all they need to hate them and avoid looking at the person inside.
Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.