By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
He was a disciplined thinker, a real-life Mr. Spock, in a world where so many worship emotion. Dr. Charles Krauthammer died on June 21, 2018, after a battle with cancer and 46 years of paralysis from a diving accident. He finished medical school at Harvard and trained as a psychiatrist before turning to political journalism. Early in his career he won a Pulitzer Prize. The rest is history.
Dr. Krauthammer was an intellectual force of nature. Facts, reality, logic, and truth served as his compass. He had an unusually inquisitive mind and was open-minded enough to allow his thinking to evolve. This stood in stark contrast to so many in the media who idolize notions and emotions.
Always patient and respectful in debate, Dr. Krauthammer was kind, thoughtful, gracious, and dignified. But those qualities never suppressed a laser-like wit and genuine sense of fun. He knew what there was to know about baseball and chess. People loved being around him because they always learned something and had a good laugh. Being confined to a wheelchair did not prevent him from enjoying life.
Most people will remember Dr. Krauthammer for his political analysis and writing. But as a physician who struggles with multiple illnesses, I have a slightly different focus. Here are just a few pearls of wisdom I learned from his remarkable example:
- Resist the temptation to feel sorry for yourself. Bitterness and victimhood will not solve anything.
- Think about death every day. This is not morbid. Charles Krauthammer was a wonderfully cheerful, funny man. Confronting death allows one to appreciate life fully.
- Keep your focus on others. We live in an age of malignant narcissism. Krauthammer rarely talked about himself and kept his focus on the needs, problems, hopes, and dreams of other people.
- Be courageous enough to say what you think but always be measured and civil. Hatred and nastiness abound today. There’s nothing constructive or healthy about it. Civility, patience, gentleness, and humility will always be the mark of true wisdom.
Dr. Charles Krauthammer could have given up on everything at the bottom of that swimming pool when he was 22 years old. He chose to fight back, and I’m one of millions who is grateful that he did.