When I last wrote about Atul Gawande’s words, I thought I understood them well enough. However, in retrospect I realize that I now have a deeper understanding.

My initial takeaway from his message was that physicians have the opportunity to be in an exalted position in society where they can quite easily come across a wide range of people in a way that few other professions can. I took this to mean that physicians have an opportunity to broaden their own understanding of the world around us and the people that inhabit it.

But I think a deeper meaning than that. Rather, I think he means that through their experiences, physicians can learn to not judge others. Gawande invites us to instead look at others more fully and with nuance. Ultimately, we may not understand them, but that’s okay.

Chris Hadfield supplements this message extremely well:

We’re all students of the human condition, whether we mean to be or not. And as we get a little older, we gain a little perspective. I think what we’re truly getting at is a collective understanding of where we are and what it means. And the where we are is the part that we could share the best. What it means is an individual choice, but the more people you meet, the more you understand what battles people are fighting, the more you see the commonality of the human experience itself.

Chris Hadfield


“Curiosity and What Equality Really Means,” by Atul Gawande, June 2, 2018. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/curiosity-and-the-prisoner

“Moving Away from Nosology,” by Sahil Nawab, June 16, 2020. http://www.sahilnawab.com/blog/moving-away-from-nosology/

“Chris Hadfield – Lessons From An Astronaut – PART 1/2 – | London Real,” by London Real, February 7, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0Rn3e_czoE