24+ quotes from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder

Quotes from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World

Tracy Kidder ·  333 pages

Rating: (58.4K votes)


“And I can imagine Farmer saying he doesn't care if no one else is willing to follow their example. He's still going to make these hikes, he'd insist, because if you say that seven hours is too long to walk for two families of patients, you're saying that their lives matter less than some others', and the idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that's wrong with the world.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“WL’s [White Liberals] think all the world’s problems can be fixed without any cost to themselves. We don’t believe that. There’s a lot to be said for sacrifice, remorse, even pity. It’s what separates us from roaches”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“That's when I feel most alive, he told me once on an airplane, when I'm helping people.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“among a coward's weapons, cynicism is the nastiest of all”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“Paul's face grew serious. 'I think whenever a people has enormous resources, it is easy for them to call themselves democratic. I think of myself more as a physician than an American. We belong to the nation of those who care for the sick. Americans are lazy democrats, and it is my belief, as someone who shares the same nationality as [a Russian doctor], I think the rich can always call themselves democratic, but the sick people are not among the rich [...] I'm very proud to be an American. I have many opportunities because I'm American. I can travel freely through the world, I can start projects, but that's called privilege, not democracy.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“...Attempts at imitation would put the emphasis where it didn't belong. The goal was to improve the lives of others, not oneself.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“The goofiness of radicals thinking they have to dress in Guatemalan peasant clothes. The poor don't want you to look like them. They want you to dress in a suit and go get them food and water. Comma.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“I think Farmer taps into a universal anxiety and also into a fundamental place in some troubled consciences, into what he calls "ambivalence," the often unacknowledged uneasiness that some of the fortunate feel about their place in the world, the thing he once told me he designed his life to avoid.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“One time I listened to Farmer give a talk on HIV to a class at the Harvard School of Public Health, and in the midst of reciting data, he mentioned the Haitian phrase “looking for life, destroying life,” Then he explained, “It’s an expression Haitians use if a poor woman selling mangoes falls off a truck and dies.” I felt as if for that moment I could see a little way into his mind, It seemed like a place of hyperconnectivity, At moments like that, I thought that what he wanted was to erase both time and geography, connecting all parts of his life and tying them instrumentally to a world in which he saw intimate, inescapable connections between the gleaming corporate offices of Paris and New York and a legless man lying on the mud floor of a hut in the remotest part of remote Haiti. Of all the world’s errors, he seemed to feel, the most fundamental was the “erasing” of people, the “hiding away” of suffering. “My big struggle is how people can not care, erase, not remember.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“Little sleep, no investment portfolio, no family around, no hot water. On an evening a few days after arriving in Cange, I wondered aloud what compensation he got for these various hardships. He told me, “If you’re making sacrifices, unless you’re automatically following some rule, it stands to reason that you’re trying to lessen some psychic discomfort. So, for example, if I took steps to be a doctor for those who don’t have medical care, it could be regarded as a sacrifice, but it could also be regarded as a way to deal with ambivalence.” He went on, and his voice changed a little. He didn’t bristle, but his tone had an edge: “I feel ambivalent about selling my services in a world where some can’t buy them. You can feel ambivalent about that, because you should feel ambivalent. Comma.” This was for me one of the first of many encounters with Farmer’s”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“Among a coward's weapons, cynicism is the nastiest of all.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“In the process Paul laid out a comprehensive theory of poverty, of a world designed by the elites of all nations to serve their own ends, the pieces of the design enshrined in ideologies, which erased the histories of how things came to be as they were.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing but medicine on a large scale.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“It is the curse of humanity that it learns to tolerate even the most horrible situations by habituation.” “Medical education does not exist to provide students with a way of making a living, but to ensure the health of the community.” “The physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor, and the social problems should largely be solved by them.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“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. I don't dislike victory. ... You know, people from our background-like you, like most PIH-ers, like me-we're used to being on a victory team, and actually what we're really trying to do in PIH 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.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“Sure,” I said. “But some people would ask, ‘How can you expect others to replicate what you’re doing here?’ What would be your answer to that?” He turned back and, smiling sweetly, said, “Fuck you.” Then, in a stentorian voice, he corrected himself: “No. I would say, ‘The objective is to inculcate in the doctors and nurses the spirit to dedicate themselves to the patients, and especially to having an outcome-oriented view of TB.’ ” He was grinning, his face alight. He looked very young just then. “In other words, ‘Fuck you.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“I felt vigorous and cheered by borrowed popularity.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“I think that the rich can always call themselves democratic, but the sick people are not among the rich.” I thought he was done, but he was only pausing for the interpreter to catch up. “Look, I’m very proud to be an American. I have many opportunities because I’m American. I can travel freely throughout the world, I can start projects, but that’s called privilege, not democracy.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“The physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor, and the social problems should largely be solved by them.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“He recites the names of the trees,
vines, shrubs, flowers that he’s planted here over the years. I count about forty different
species. Finally, in the dim light from the patio, he studies a new fern that has just come up.
“It’s just vibrant and happy and healthy. The way a patient should be.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“People call me a
saint and I think, I have to work harder. Because a saint would be a great thing to be.” - Paul Farmer”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“Dokte Paul works with both
hands” — that is, both with science and with the magic necessary to remove ensorcellments.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“Farmer liked to tell his Harvard students that to be a good clinician you must never let a patient know that you have problems too, or that you’re in a
hurry.”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


“Beyond mountains there are mountains.” - Haitian proverb”
― Tracy Kidder, quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World


About the author

Tracy Kidder
Born place: in New York, New York, The United States
Born date November 12, 1945
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