I’ve said, typed, and scrawled that sentence a million times in the last few months. I’ve repeated it so many times that I worry the only point I’m getting across is that this is too big a stain on the world to ever scrub out. It’s taken root in the back of my mind, where it lives like this heavy fog of awareness that I’m constantly trying to communicate to people in a meaningful, non-depressing, action-inspiring way.
How do you get people excited about tackling one of the world’s worst human rights crises? To avoid the fog effect of the one billion, there’s one thing that has to be brought sharply into focus.
The one billion are mothers, grandfathers, schoolgirls, and little brothers. They worry about how their kids are doing in school, and they bite their nails watching their favorite sports teams. They laugh at stupid TV ads, and they swear when they stub a toe. We’re all the same. Everyone makes a funny face when they taste a lemon for the first time.
So, it’s fundamentally wrong that, depending on where on earth someone happens to be born, they may struggle to access the most basic medical care, let alone have a fair shot at confronting an illness like cancer, that devastates the world’s most affluent families.
This came crashing down on me yesterday when I visited terminally ill patients being treated by palliative care doctors in India. I found myself sitting beside the bed of a woman dying of breast cancer. I watched her young daughter play outside while she welled up with tears and described her symptoms to the doctor. By then, her disease had already progressed so far that he could only prescribe medication for her pain, hold her hands, and say a prayer.
Things shouldn’t be that way, and they don’t have to be. Technology, communication, and unprecedented global connection have made the world a much smaller place. The amorphous “one billion” is coming into focus as a colorful, vibrant, and diverse group of people and personalities who deserve to join a global community that respects the right to health. It’s hard not to care about someone on the other side of the world when you can know their story, see their face, and relate to their situation. This is what gets me excited for the potential of Watsi.