Ivy League

While taking a walk, a sign reading, “Ivy League Doctors in Media”, a small town in eastern Pennsylvania caught my eye. Just the day before I’d attended the commencement ceremony of an Ivy league school in which the commencement speaker’s address was quite engaging. She did mention the fact that having a degree from this school was quite an accomplishment and would open doors, but she spent more time speaking about relationships and the importance of using this key to unlock  the way to success. So what’s wrong with the sign? Perhaps nothing, if you heard that address and you were able to make the connection that an Ivy League education translates to those doctors’ willingness to truly know their patients. However, if that’s important to you and you didn’t hear the address, you would have to make an assumption, take a leap of faith that these doctors in fact heard a similar commencement address, took it to heart and built a successful practice founded on their desire to build relationships. I have to admit, although I did hear the address – I didn’t take that leap. The first thing that came to mind was perhaps their assumption that the institution was more important to someone like myself who might be looking for a doctor. However, I must also admit that if I was in need of a doctor, out of curiosity I probably would have reached out. No doubt, Ivy League is one of the best (certainly among the oldest), but I still don’t know know you from a can a paint and the only way I can tell if a can of paint has any quality regardless of the brand is if I open it up and use it. Only after a period of time will I know how well it holds up. I recall thousands of Ivy League graduates on that field and not all of them were adorned with those honor chords, representing the best of this quality education. In fact there were far more who had no honor chords than those who did. How do I know whether these doctors were among the best of the best or judging from the sign, among the “slackers” who think that merely having an Ivy League education is enough. Knowledge as we know, even in its purest and rarest form, does not measure up pure compassion, empathy or more importantly, relational sensibilities. After having heard that commencement address to undoubtedly a group of the best and brightest students of this time, when it comes to professions it would in part, certainly ease my mind to find someone with the knowledge and the know how, but deep down the other part of what’s most important to me is that the person truly cares. This simply can’t be done by the yardstick of knowledge. One must be willing to reach out as well as be willing to find ways and allow others to reach in. Don’t ask me to trust you solely based on what you know. No one has an open and honest relationship with an institution. Only people can do that. Meet me where I am and together let us build a better humanity that does not cloud one another’s expectation nor make assumptions about who we are and what we have to offer. Let the comfort of us knowing one another in relationship be the true asset and the knowledge simply be the fringe benefit of our lives. For me, it is in this way that I come to understand God, through Christ’s relationships, not by the fact that they called him rabbi or teacher. It is also in this way that I believe we are all called. Every individual needs other individuals (Susan Powers, Commencement Address 2015 U of PA). It’s as simple as that, a golden rule often interpreted as a permeable understanding. But we can not afford to forget or even allow it to become full of holes for our own purposes, because in the end none of us will be remembered or measured solely by what we know but rather in community and how we made a positive difference in the lives of one another. It is possible to have both and that in my opinion is true Ivy League.

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