Meeting Dr. Werner Spitz, the father of modern forensic pathology
Forensic pathologists have the coolest patients.
That’s just one of several jokes I heard at the annual conference of forensic pathologists’ held here in Las Vegas a few nights ago.
Forensic pathologists study dead people. Their objective is to determine cause of death. Popular culture knows this squeamish science mostly through popular television shows like “CSI.” However, forensic pathology involves far more than prodding corpses, probing for gunshot wounds, and sawing off skulls to examine brain tissue. As I would gradually come to discover, forensics have become the new frontier of law and order, bolstering the justice portion of the “criminal justice” system, while also sometimes igniting controversy and framing much of what we know of current events. Impartial to politics of sentiment, it’s findings can trigger murder charges, free the innocent, and even assuage the boiling tinder of race riots. At it’s core, forensics can also be the emotional salve of truth for survivors of the deceased, who may wonder what really happened to their friends and loved ones. Forensics is the dispensation of peace.
There’s a new movie out right now, titled “Race.” It’s the life story of Jesse Owens, the Olympic legend and 4-time gold medal winner best known for his astounding accomplishments at the 1936 Olympiad, which were held in Berlin under the shadow of grandiose Nazi pageantry.
From critics’ reviews, the movie is won’t be shattering any world records. I have no plans to go see it. It’s quite sad that the life of one of the greatest athletes of the last century was reduced to a muddled mess that will likely end up on Showtime by the end of March. [LISTEN TO THE PODCAST AT PAUL HARRIS’ WEBSITE HERE…it’s terrific]
Owens died in 1980. But he remains an intriguing figure in history for what he experienced and endured not just in track and field, but in society as presumably one of America’s “heroes.”
I had the great honor of meeting Mr. Owens in person, once. That occasion took place back in 1976, four years before his death. Permit me to tell you that story.
I often write about my moral and spiritual evolution. Peace and enlightenment aren’t final destinations, so much as constant pursuits. They require work.
Most of us go through life in a perpetual state of fluidity and fluctuation. I like to believe that I’m moving in the right direction of becoming a better person. But that’s not always the case. I admit to falling short of my personal goals, way too often.
Years are numbers. They’re merely demarcations of the calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, in 1582.
But they also represent frontiers of passage.
As 2015 ends and 2016 begins, millions of New Year’s resolutions will come, and then pass. Some pledge to go on diets and improve their health. Others take on new projects, or vow to complete unfinished tasks. Many renew aspirations to be better people and improve relationships with family and friends. Most of our annual reaffirmations are sincere.
Still, I’m puzzled as to why we need one specific day on the calendar to make constructive changes in our lives. What makes every January 1st so special? Why not February 3rd? Or July 17th? Or October 24th? Instead, can’t there be 365 opportunities to turn over a new leaf and do something good?
Something seemingly insignificant happened today at Starbucks Coffee, which actually ended up leaving quite an impression on me. And, I’d like to tell you about it.
At the airport in Fort Lauderdale, I waited inside the terminal and stopped to order my usual cafe latte. Most Starbucks have lines, especially in the mornings, and this was no exception.
While about a dozen or so travelers stood in line, bored and indifferent to our surroundings, we couldn’t help but hear and observe what can only be described as a spirited employee bouncing around, working joyously behind the counter. It seemed like the happiest day of his life. While two cashiers rang up the orders, the young man — whose name I soon learned was “Evans” — made the coffee drinks.