An 'Audacious' Acceptance

Last month, Dr. Fischbein was recognized at The BIRTHING JUSTICE FORUM & MATERNAL-CHILD HEALTH CHAMPION AWARDS CEREMONY. The event, hosted by The Assocaition for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health in collaboration with Human Rights In Childbirth. He was awarded the "MOST AUDACIOUS AWARD" which honors a MCH or Childbirth professional who has shown remarkable courage and boldness to change childbirth or maternity care. Below is Dr. Stu's acceptance speech.

Thank you all very much for this recognition. Initially, When I first received Cordelia’s email notification of being selected for this award I felt grateful to be recognized but had no perspective on what it really meant. So I looked up the word “Audacious” and here is what I found:

“Bold, Daring, Fearless, Brave, Valiant, Courageous, Heroic”. But then there was a second definition: “Impudent, Impertinent, Insolent, Presumptuous, Cheeky, Irreverent, Disrespectful, Insubordinate”

Hmmmm, So which one was I being honored for?

But now, after absorbing the wisdom of the many visionaries, leaders and dedicated souls in this room, I realize it doesn’t really matter. You all are my anchor, my centerboard, without whom I would be adrift.

Many of you know I am a big fan of common sense which is sorely lacking these days. One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Paine, author of the original “Common Sense” from the 18th century and one of our founders.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

But what does this really mean?

This was referring to the abuse of the Crown and the form of governance of his day (back in the 1770’s in the American Colonies).

Whether it is taxes or some other measure imposed on us by the government orm other form of tyranny, there is initially some resistance. But that resistance usually fades, and the new order becomes comfortable, or at least normal.

But if it is improper, or even wrong, it is still that no matter how much time has passed. Yet often we become used to these things and eventually accept them as right.

So why is not being complacent important?  
To me, complacency is what this quote is about. We complain for a while, then we settle in and get used to it. While in some parts of our lives, compromise is necessary, it should only be in how we do things, not in our core beliefs. Compromise in a properly held belief is not a good thing.

This is not, however, a call to arms. There are many ways to push back against something you believe to be wrong. Protesting, writing letters, having additional discussions and gatherings like this are just a few of the ways to not be complacent without being violent.

Powerful people tend to get their way only because they can get some people to be complacent, and move the mass of people in the direction they desire. However there are plenty of other people who have influence as well. Whether it is by their station or their passion, they can help push back complacency.

These people are us. We are they. The people with the power to change things, that’s all of us. We only lose if we are complacent or if we become paralyzed by anger or deterred by minutia. There are so many other paths available to us, we just need to take action. Each in our own way.

I will continue to be “Audacious” on behalf of my beliefs and in my own way – whatever definition that entails. Thank you very much.

Stuart J. Fischbein, MD FACOG
California Endowment Center
1000 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

May 26, 2016