Guest Editorial: What matters most

By Ellen Shaw de Paredes, MD
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Dr. Paredes is the Founder and Director, The Ellen Shaw de Paredes Institute for Women's Imaging, Glen Allen, VA. She is also a member of the editorial board of this journal.

I had planned a very different editorial for this issue that addresses concerns related to women's health, but I was prompted to change course based on an event that occurred today. I had a meeting about a piece of equipment that we were in the process of purchasing, and the vendor changed some of the important details of the contract.

The problem that I have with his decision was not that he made the changes, but rather in how he did it-the timing, the lack of forthrightness, and the inherent lack of honesty in the process are what really trouble me. This faux pas on his part has placed a cloud over the image of his company for me and has cost him the deal. This episode caused me to reflect on the qualities in everyday life that are most important and how the presence or absence of those qualities causes some to excel or to find contentment and others to fail.

Recently, my husband gave me a book called Wabi Sabi by Diane Durston. It is one of those little books that is steeped with philosophical thoughts-quick to read but long in the contemplation that they evoke. The book describes the "essence of tranquility" in everyday life. Included among the most important virtues described is sincerity. Confucius is quoted as saying, "Sincerity and truth are the basis of every virtue." Homer wrote, "Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another."

To me, honesty, sincerity, and a sense of integrity are the most important human qualities. Unfortunately, the vendor with whom I met lacked those virtues. If he did not show sincerity in his meeting with me, then I cannot expect anything different from him or his colleagues at the company in the future.

As radiologists, we must reflect not only on our commitment to the accuracy of our diagnosis, but also on the qualities that define us and our profession.Without a doubt, virtues are far more important than the tangibles in life, or as Art Buchwald so eloquently stated, "The best things in life aren't things."

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Guest Editorial: What matters most.  Appl Radiol. 

September 12, 2007

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