From his (great) biography, Mountains Beyond Mountains, the character of Paul Farmer:
“Ophelia thought that Paul had a fairly complex personality, built of oppositions — a need for frenzied activity that verged, she though, on desperation, and a towering self-confidence oddly combined with a hunger for affirmation. She thought she understood; he took on more than he could fix, so of course he wanted reassurance. And yet he also seemed “terribly simple.” She thought he had never experienced true depression, a freedom so enviable she almost resented it. It was as if in seeking out suffering in some of the world’s most desperate locales, he made himself immune to the self-consuming varieties of psychic pain. He’d told me back in Haiti, I may be a more sunny, cheerful person than you. No one believes that I’m cheerful because of what I say and write, but I only say and write those things because they’re true.” He was often sad, of course, but it didn’t take much to cheer him up.”
Paul Farmer has affected change in thousands, and prevented probably over a million deaths in his work with Multiple-drug-resistant Tuberculosis, mainly in the poorest areas.
Questions to think about:
1. Is the quest for perfection always a good thing? What negative character consequences do leaders sacrifice in order to solve immense problems bigger than themselves?
2. If you were [Paul Farmer, Brett Farve, Che Guevara, Indira Ghandi] and had the chance, would you jump off the treadmill? or Be at the top of your game in an international world-scene, even if it necessitates being stressed and demanded under the eyes of a million people?
3. Would you write your own biography? (or press releases..) Or let someone like Tracy Kidder follow to represent your legacy in print? What are some advantages and disadvantages to either way?
SO242 students, chime in!
Systems Change Visionary