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America Has A Heart

As an American, I was proud when I heard the news. I grinned to myself. It was on my way to work, through a beautiful city park, with the sun rising over the hillside. The morning radio program reported the news that a California judge overturned their state’s ban on gay marriage.

I know what you’re thinking: A medical blog is running amuck right into a political hornet’s nest. But isn’t it true that a nation’s kindness is a defining characteristic?

America and Americans do much that is good and right. Examples of such goodness are too numerous to list. If you are a victim of a calamity, you can be sure that America will help. Ask Haiti. And it’s not just foreign countries, we help each other. There’s a flood and then there are volunteers. A power outage and there are cords across the streets. It’s not controversial to say we are a kind nation.

But it would also be naive to suggest that this decision doesn’t have major political ramifications. I get that. Nonetheless, I like the judge’s decision on two grounds. One is that I find solace in common sense. The other reason is more pragmatic: Kindness to others reduces inflammation. And as a nation we could really use smoother arteries and less-sticky platelets.

So here goes…

First the common sense part.

It has been many years since I spent my Sunday mornings sitting in hardwood pews at Saint Mary’s on Spring Street in Windsor Locks. And the details from Thursday’s after-school catechism sessions are even cloudier. It was forever ago. However, I do remember the basic theorems of my childhood religion experience.

Things like we should love our neighbor (heck, I think that is engraved in stone tablets and displayed all over Kentucky) and we should be kind, tolerant and generous. It seems that I remember these were the characteristics of certain tall, tan, bearded gentleman who ended up dying on a cross.

Another lesson I learned in that same small town in Connecticut came from middle-school American history class. Being a forest — rather than a tree — type person, I seem to remember the notion that our country was formed on the basis of freedom. And there was something about all men are created equal.

So enough with politics. Let’s get to some scientific reasoning about inflammation and heart disease.

Heart disease is serious. It is our nation’s leading cause of death. And all agree that heart disease is incredibly expensive to treat. But what is cheaper therapy than medicine, stents and surgery — even less expensive than diet and exercise?

Nothing costs less than kindness to others. There are no more cost-effective strategies for treating heart disease than kindness. The inner peace that comes from tolerance, generosity and down-home goodness to others soothes the arteries and platelets. It is anti-inflammatory. Come to think of it, I have practiced cardiology for 17 years and never seen a heart attack in a nun.

What ever the legal means were, the end result of the judge’s decision exudes rightness and kindness. Our country’s heart is better for it.


*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

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