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The Art of Rescue

February 4, 2013

In our Old St. Anne’s Chapel last September, I talked about Dr. Atul Gawande’s recent Commencement talk about the art of rescue.  I challenged the community to think about the implications of Gawande’s phrase:  “The only failure is the failure to rescue.”

In his speech, Gawande argued that students and adults need to develop the crucial skills of “judgment, teamwork and acceptance of responsibility” in order to excel in the art of rescue.  When we face a challenge, a crisis or an emergency in our life, our work or in our community, we need to have the maturity, wisdom, patience and skill of a group of doctors who have the capacity to think, react and make decisions for the sake of a patient.  To be ready for such moments, we have to learn how to live, how to handle stress and anxiety, how to develop the ability to listen well and to share ideas with others.  In short, we have to think of our lives as preparation for moments of rescue.

In addition, we have to see that the art of rescue is also the expression of human solidarity and commitment.  Whether we rescue each other, the earth, or our local, national or international communities, we need to understand that what we do and how we live matters in a very real way.

Finally, when we face failure, adversity or defeat, we have to have the resources to respond, to change, to adapt, to fight on and to show grit, resilience and perseverance.

What moments of rescue have you given or received in recent months?

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