29 Jan 2009

Philosopher Ruler

When we saw some consultations last week, a few high-ranking officials were visiting the ward. “The Earth is invaded by extra-terrestrials!” I exclaimed. All my teammates laughed.

This stems from the language in Szeto’s blog, which almost all frontline staff in our department read regularly. In his blog, our Boss is called the man from Pluto, while other hospital administrators are extra-terrestrials outside the Solar System. Although they control everything on Earth, they do not understand how people on Earth think and do things. Clearly, Szeto has a strong distaste for administrators.

I admire Szeto in every aspect, but cannot share his feelings on this point. If administrators cease to exist, who are going to hold endless boring meetings, meet the press for hospital mishaps, and explain to the government why a hospital spent nearly twice its original budget? We probably all need to share some of these. One reason why we are writing blogs so happily now is because some people love administrative work.

In an idealized society described by Plato in The Republic, the best ruler should be a philosopher. A philosopher is in love with the truth. When a man’s desire flows towards the acquisition of knowledge, his pleasure will be in things purely of the mind, and physical pleasures will pass him by. Money and fame would not be his concern. However, he fits the job as a ruler because of his good memory, readiness to learn, breadth of vision and grace, and that he is a friend of truth, justice, courage, and self-control. Interestingly, the best ruler should not want to be a ruler at all.

Of course, we are not in an ideal world, and I have to say our Boss is great after all. Just out of fantasy, LY will be an interesting candidate who can double our department’s value every year and turn our frontline staff into shareholders. Szeto is closest to the philosopher ruler described by Plato. Under his rule, I expect every senior staff can not only recite Harrison’s Textbook of Medicine, but also quote a New England paper with the correct page number during ward rounds.

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