Statement from Facebook— June 2021
I’ve had a lot of people approach me in the past day or so with questions about potential near-term political involvement, and given the wonderful energy and support I had with the campaign, that as it happens, I launched a year ago today, I feel I ought to post a brief message.
Before running, several experienced politicians told me I needed the support of my whole family–not just my partner–my kids too. So I dutifully surveyed the Howard-Scotts, got three thumbs up, and jumped in. It was a busy summer (someone recently asked me if I’d purposefully asked Vivi to photo-bomb zoom meetings in order to appear family oriented but that was just the reality of running a campaign while married to the local medical director during a pandemic. There weren’t a lot of trips to the beach or family dinners over the course of those months, so after the vote, Vivi (then 7) let it be known that she had revoked permission for political involvement until she’s a bit older. (She says 14. She is very clear on this. Possibly we can renegotiate later but I think I’d better co-build a good few sandcastles first
I’m pretty conscious that there is probably a limited window of time remaining when my kids are going to want to hang out with me that much, so right now my 2-3 year plan is to work in the ER, write a book on planetary health, help to coordinate the health sector response to climate change locally, nationally, and internationally, and possibly get some additional training in ecological economics. There are a lot of projects in the pipeline–good things, evidence-based things, well-thought-out, joyful, multidisciplinary things that will, I think, help the global health community uplevel to where society needs us to be.
Increasingly I’m aware that on the spectrum of data-policy-advocacy-political involvement, the limiting factor in terms of seeing evidence-based ideas brought to life is the latter stage. If we want justice at home, if we want to decolonize planetary health, if we want a healthy future for our kids–we need great people to go into politics. At this stage in my career I view running for office with the same sense of appreciation as I have for people who set out to provide medical care for under-served populations, whether those be in the inner-city, the far North, or conflict zones. The vast majority of people in politics are acting courageously in the service of the public, and if we see someone who is evidence-oriented and ethics-driven, they deserve for us to step into the arena enough that we offer our time, our treasure, and our support.
We are living at a time of overlapping planetary health emergencies that have magnified inequities, increased personal tragedies, reduced the various supports we usually rely upon to keep us each on an even-keel, and lent time pressure to our joint decision-making. Our information channels send us into silos, our dinosaur brains urge us to click on negative stories, our recent distancing has reduced the number of moments in a given day where we come across people we don’t know and share an unexpected smile.
Despite that, the fact remains–when pressed, we rearranged our society to prioritize health, to optimize wellbeing, and to take care of one another. If we keep our gaze fixed upon our shared desire for a healthy future, and use that to guide us, each next step we take will be true.
Sending energy and thanks to every single one of you for all the heart and work you have put into progress along that path this year. Looking forward to sharing the next leg of the journey.