Here, for the first time, is a collection of short speeches by the charismatic doctor and social activist Paul Farmer. One of the most passionate and influential voices for global health equity and social justice, Farmer encourages young people to tackle the greatest challenges of our times. Engaging, often humorous, and always inspiring, these speeches bring to light the brilliance and force of Farmer’s vision in a single, accessible volume.
A must-read for graduates, students, and everyone seeking to help bend the arc of history toward justice, To Repair the World:
• Challenges readers to counter failures of imagination that keep billions of people without access to health care, safe drinking water, decent schools, and other basic human rights;
• Champions the power of partnership against global poverty, climate change, and other pressing problems today;
• Overturns common assumptions about health disparities around the globe by considering the large-scale social forces that determine who gets sick and who has access to health care;
• Discusses how hope, solidarity, faith, and hardbitten analysis have animated Farmer’s service to the poor in Haiti, Peru, Rwanda, Russia, and elsewhere;
• Leaves the reader with an uplifting vision: that with creativity, passion, teamwork, and determination, the next generations can make the world a safer and more humane place.
Foreword by President Bill Clinton
Introduction by Jonathan Weigel
Part I: Reimagining Equity
General Anesthesia for the (Young Doctor’s) Soul?
Brown Medical School, Commencement 2001
Epiphany, Metanoia, Praxis: Turning Road Angst into Hope—and Action
Boston College, Commencement 2005
Three Stories, Three Paradigms, and a Critique of Social Entrepreneurship
Skoll World Forum, Oxford University 2008
The Story of the Inhaler
College of the Holy Cross, Commencement 2012
Countering Failures of Imagination
Northwestern University, Commencement 2012
Part II: The Future of Medicine and the Big Picture
If You Take the Red Pill: Reflections on the Future of Medicine
Harvard Medical School, Class Day 2003
Medicine as a Vocation
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Commencement 2004
Haiti After the Earthquake
Harvard Medical School, Talks@Twelve Speaker Series 2010
The Tetanus Speech
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Commencement 2010
Part III: Health, Human Rights, and Unnatural Disasters
Global Health Equity and the Missing Weapons of Mass Salvation
Harvard School of Public Health, Commencement 2004
Making Public Health Matter
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Commencement 2006
Unnatural Disasters and the Right to Health Care
Tulane School of Medicine, Commencement 2008
Exploring the Adjacent Possible
Georgetown University, Commencement 2011
Part IV: Service, Solidarity, Social Justice
Who Stands Fast?
Union Theological Seminary, Union Medal Acceptance Speech 2006
Courage and Compassion in the Time of Guantánamo
Emory University, Commencement 2007
Spirituality and Justice
All Saints Parish (Brookline, MA), Spirituality and Justice Award Acceptance Speech 2008
Making Hope and History Rhyme
Princeton University, Commencement 2008
The Drum Major Instinct
Boston University, Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration 2009
Accompaniment as Policy
Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Commencement 2011
Paul Farmer is co-founder of Partners In Health and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His most recent book is Reimagining Global Health. Other titles include To Repair the World, Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights; The New War on the Poor; Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues; and AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame, all by UC Press.
“Paul Farmer’s deserved fame as global health expert, medical anthropologist, and advocate for the poor and the marginal centers on his moral commitment to doing good in the world and on the extraordinary influence of his personal call to a generation of young men and women to make the same remarkable commitment. Here are the words, the stories, the passion, the humor, the humanity— vulnerable and powerful—that constitute Paul’s magic. Here is Paul at those special moments when we want and need a moral exemplar, calling us to do what good we can for those who have nothing, who are broken, who are left behind, who are sick and disabled, who need to be accompanied, and whose betterment betters us. Against the selfishness of the market model and the deadening cynicism of the media, here is straight talk about why, as the song goes, “you’ve got to serve somebody,” why caregiving and doing good really do matter to the world and to each of us.”—Arthur Kleinman, Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University
“Paul Farmer has a knack for persuading an audience to participate in his lectures, whether aloud or in silence. In other words, he never bores his audience. The liveliness of his talks comes in part from his delivery, but also from the qualities of the lectures themselves: the freshness of their ideas, their wit, and their passion. And these, thankfully, are qualities which this collection preserves.”—Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of a New Machine, Among Schoolchildren, Mountains Beyond Mountains, and other titles.
“Paul Farmer is the most compelling voice for justice in a generation. In this volume are the stories and insights that have helped thousands of students imagine—and fight for—a better world. Read this to be inspired. Read this to learn. Most importantly, when you’re done, give this book to a friend and join the movement for health equity.”—Jonny Dorsey, cofounder of FACE AIDS and Global Health Corps
“This collection of speeches brings us close to Paul Farmer in a way that scholarly publications can’t. In these pages, I hear Paul’s voice clearly: his tenderness, his anger, his passion for justice, the incendiary sense of humor that has regularly doubled me over with laughter for twenty-five years—and often made me worry for Paul’s safety, as he aimed his barbs at the uncaring power holders of this world. Paul speaks directly to young people grappling with big decisions: about the values they will live by, the work they will choose, where their responsibility for other people begins and ends. But these questions concern all of us. And, for anyone struggling with these issues, I can’t imagine a more challenging yet inspiring guide than Paul Farmer.”—Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, former President of Dartmouth College, cofounder of Partners In Health.
“The fingerprints of Dr. Paul Farmer are everywhere in the world. I have seen them firsthand in Haiti, Rwanda, and right here in the United States. Whenever there is a need, Paul is the first guy out the door. After all, curing or repairing the world is ambitious and tough work, but one can’t help feeling more optimistic about our fate knowing Dr. Farmer is on the job. In his new book, you get more of an insight into this modern life hero—what makes him tick, his frailties, and what he worries about at night, long after most of the world is asleep. We also learn what inspires him, and the answer may surprise you.
Paul is my friend, and I have long wondered about the answers to some of these questions, yet never had the opportunity to ask. I also know that Paul will be mad at me for calling him a hero. His humility is legendary and one hundred percent genuine. Medical students all over the world have told me they entered our shared profession because of Dr. Paul Farmer. Now, it is time for the rest of the planet to be inspired, and in these pages they learn what it takes To Repair the World.”—Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent at CNN and Professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine