The 🄳 is for Duty…
Herman Melville taught me this lesson. A lesser among his transcendentalist peers, the great Melville saw duty to his ship, crew, and mission as a more worthy specter for his pen and mind than the pantheistic halls of mankind.
I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this:
Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down for magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces—though I cannot tell why this was exactly; yet, now that I recall all the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs and motives which being cunningly presented to me under various disguises, induced me to set about
performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the delusion that it was a choice resulting from my own unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment. Undeliverable: indescribable Patagonia: the southernmost part of South America Barbarous: primitive or uncivilized
Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great whale himself. Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity.
~ H.M Moby Dick
Why is Melville’s take on Duty so important in The Epinhood?
Especially since I know that reading Melville is a privilege that is only made possible by isolating ones self from his/her duty anyway, and besides isn’t this supposed to be a scientific blog written by an Epidemiologist (author’s note, this was started before blogs written by Epis was actually a thing). Here though, to the quick, the duty valued in The Epinhood is inherently the local variety, but nothing is local anymore, and this is the same world my first Epinhood mentor introduced me to on the yellow and cracked page. Everyone in Moby Dick is from somewhere going somewhere else, it’s all fluid, but not the details — they could not be more concrete. That’s the idea here too in this blog experiment, and therin we sail onward to our demise.
The 🄰 is for advocating…
The kind of advocating that stirs from within as nagging sense of duty and responsibility to serve others with I don’t know, a scientist’s blog would certainly be useful today. However, when it comes to the 🄰 in The Epinhood? I’m not talking about the dedication to a false flag advocacy one might rep in a law school application to get in so they can can become a lawyer and make big money, this is the deeper kind of advocacy that some people are blessed to have burned into their DNA. I am talking about advocacy for the broken and crushed here, or those in the path of such injury, illness, or devastation. In short the vulnerable and susceptible to the trauma of being in the wrong zip code, or scientifically illiterate and poor, or part of the wrong tribe at the wrong time in the worst place imaginable. The trailer park in the eye of the storm, wherever there are miserables fighting to escape their pit, the Epinhood has a stake.
The 🅂 is for Science…
And yes, for those who saw it coming, the 🆂 represents a duty to advocacy through good old fashion epidemiological Science.
Therefore I give you DAS Epinhood! A blog where together we track diseases and all of their causes and consequences, down to their roots, and up to their branches. Yeah, that’s The hood part, it represents the rest of us. Not the 1% necessarily. Unless they’re down here in the path of the storm with us. And as for the great Melville and his Whale I start with him because he encountered and embraced the calamity of inequality in his day with the same courage, curiosity, and empathy I challenge us to pursue, for if the world had more Ishmaels and fewer Ahabs we too might be able to survive the voyages of our age too, albeit in increasingly treacherous waters.
More to the point though the hood is where the vulnerable are eking out their existence today, just surviving and trying not to get crushed. And, the goal of this whole blog experiment is to always seek to be as free as I can while using Epidemiology to help vulnerable folks not get crushed when Pandemics like Climate Change, Economic Inequality, Gun Violence, Diabetes, Opioid Addiction, or COVID-19 to name a few — roll over us.
The purpose is not to replace my Epidemiologist day job, it’s to keep me sane in that work and equally committed on and off the clock, in all seasons, to the reason I wanted to be an Epidemiologist to start with. It’s a platform to return dignity to the peoples, places, times, and numbered events without agency. Because long before Big Tech, and the Harvard School of Social Medicine, the Gates Foundation, Germ Theory, all of it. That’s what Epidemiology was all about. And, you won’t hear it in the Silicon Valley pitch or Mayo Podcast this week, but Epidemiologists were the original old gangster geeks saving lives with nothing but the data that can exist when scientific observation meets pen and paper.
The tried and true among us know this, and to them also know this blog will also always be dedicated.
Also key here in this rabbit hole, by design, let it be shared a priori that although I fully acknowledge Epidemiology is a very broad scientific domain, the only empirical or anecdotal gems worth repeating are those seeking to achieve the greatest good for the largest lot, so a lot if not all will be centered on the confluence of: resilience in the century of climate change catastrophe tomorrow, public health for all today, environmental injustice of yesterday must end.
Another maxim, you have to be in the hood to serve the hood, as a decent Epidemiologist. Ironically, this is by far the most central theme to The Epinhood back story, the name itself. You see it came to me sitting in nap pod in the posh digs of a previous life. I recalled in my interview for that role that she conceded there had never been an Epidemiologist there before, but it didn’t occur to me to then to ponder why because I had a family to feed. In hindsight I should have listened more closely to her question.
Nonetheless, the name struck while sitting there looking out of glorious large glass windows, down on the streets below. At the same time that it hit me — no matter what tech I had at my disposal, Epidemiology done from nap pods in disconnected company palaces will always suck, and thus napping will be preferable.
Fast forward to Age of COVID-19, I have since been able to experience how restorative the work of Epidemiology in a good and pure Public Health mission can be, but only as long as the motivation for every statistic is to prevent an infection, extend a life course, reduce exposure to trauma or the lessen the weight of inequality. Focus and transparency and personal discipline to always stay centered on a true North are imperative.
The Epinhood is about standing up for others even when the odds are against us.
That’s what being an Epi in the hood, for the greater good, is all about.
What People Say
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.Walt Disney
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.J. K. Rowling
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.Dr. Seuss
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