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The Long Defeat

December 7, 2007

The story of Dr. Paul Farmer has fascinated me.  He is a world renowned doctor, but spent much of his life in a small community in Haiti.  When he found out that one of his patients in Haiti didn’t take his medication, he took a day long trip into the mountains to seek him out. The biographer of the book that tells his story asks “isn’t this a waste of money and time to have you, a world renown doctor making a day long trip to visit this one patient…it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Dr Farmer answered:

“I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing. Now I actually think sometimes we may win… [People] from our background — like you,… like me — we’re used to being on a victory team, and actually what we’re really trying to do… is to make common cause with the losers. Those are two very different things. We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it’s not worth it. So you fight the long defeat.”
—Paul Farmer in “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder

When some thought Christ would come to Earth as a conquering king, he came to walk out a long defeat on our behalf. Sometimes we think that we shouldn’t try to change anything in the world, because we think it is a battle that we can’t win.  We may enter into some stories and some fights that we might not win, but we should enter in anyway. 

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