Individualism has been touted as a desirable attribute for generations. The gun-toting pioneers of the west were individuals. So are soldiers even though they are not supposed to be.
The individuals of the 1960s were phonies. They made non-conforming an art of actually conforming. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and was laughed at in a Haight Avenue restaurant because I was wearing a blue blazer and a white turtleneck. My hair was over my ears, however. “Drop out” was never an option. I valued my profession.
Entertainers are the quintessential individuals. Pharmacists were herd animals up until the last four decades. We held on together to grow a profession under difficult circumstances, but we did hold together. Then something happened. Circumstances came about that all we had to do is look out for Number One.
In the 1960s, I was not an individual when it came to my profession. That came later. I was a “joiner”. There were ethical standards that most pharmacists lived by. At the beginning of the slam, bam 1970s when we started treating other pharmacists as the enemies (competitors), the so-called individual started showing up. It was everyone for himself.
It was easy for work-life conditions to disintegrate. Each pharmacist was on his own in almost all cases. You came in, you did your job, you put up with the conditions, you never complained when you did not agree with something. Your professionalism went into the abyss because it is very difficult for one person to make an ethical stand. That is what a profession does, not free agents like you and me.
The fabric of our profession has been torn. It is time to start repairing the stuff that we are made of.
We are in an age of individual responsibility. Accountability is the buzz word. This kind of individualism is not an “every man for himself” type of individualism. It is not a gratifying one’s desires for their own sake and to hell with everyone else. It is an ethical philosophy that elevates the individual to the standards of something bigger than themselves. THE PROFESSION.
We will then be responsible for healing our profession. Each of us must recognize that individual effort matters and that when we satisfy our ethical principles that pharmacy will gain.
It is time to pull together for the common good. Pharmacy run by pharmacists? It was run by pharmacists until the 1970s. Recent moves tell me that it is critical that we get our profession back.
Can we get it back again? What did Benjamin Franklin say Paul, “If we don’t hang together we will certainly hang separately”