We Are Not Afraid: Part Two - Annals of Internal Medicine: Fresh Look Blog


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

We Are Not Afraid: Part Two

What happens to a dream renewed?

      Does it rise up
      like a flower in the sun?
      To muster the courage to heal
      Wounds that are real
      Does it smell of something sweet
      Or does it pulse with life—
      like a heartbeat?

      Maybe it will last
      Like it did before

     Will it settle the score?

Four years ago, in this journal, I wrote a piece saying we are not afraid (1). The truth is there have been several moments of fear and even more moments of pain in the past 4 years. None more challenging than a concurrent plague taking a half a million American lives by the time this is published and an insurrection in the temple of this republic by domestic terrorists. There was the moment when my patient’s father was deported. There were moments when my patients died from coronavirus disease 2019. There were moments I realized the lack of equity that existed within my own profession. There was the moment that weighed heaviest on me, when my patient 1 week before he died by suicide said, “I’ve come to the realization that people need people,” and his loss made me feel that the health care system, society, and I had failed him.

The past few weeks have felt so bleak, but the new president offers me pragmatic hope. It allows me to see the moments of good—the equity work being done at my health system, the resilience of my students, the joy of my son. The American experiment continues on. It requires work, by all of us, even us internists, to advance the lives of the marginalized.

I am not afraid, but I am committed to putting in the work, and because of that commitment, I have hope.


  1. Syed FZ. We are not afraid. Ann Intern Med. 2017;166:375. [PMID: 28265664] doi:10.7326/M16-2632

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