We use the term service in many different ways in our everyday language. Community service, military service, the service industry, civil service, and service-learning represent only the tip of the iceberg regarding how the term is utilized. Any time a term is used to cover such varied and sometimes conflicting concepts, it risks becoming emptied of meaning. Common to all these uses is an assumption that service is an action done to benefit someone else; beyond that, however, many different questions factor into whether a given act counts as service or not.
This is even more true if we contemplate the relative meaning or value of different types of service. For example, is service more meaningful if it is done:. Behind these questions lies a more fundamental question: In other words, are we primarily concerned with the attitudes and sacrifice of the server or the impact on the served? And to further complicate the issue, is it always or ever clear who is being served and who is doing the serving?
These tensions are readily apparent in Mountains Beyond Mountains. He clearly liked the fancy restaurant, the heavy cloth napkins, the good bottle of wine. What struck me that evening was how happy he seemed with his life. The way he talked, it seemed he actually enjoyed living among Haitian peasant farmers. Kidder gives voice to the common assumption that someone who serves others as Farmer does could not possibly actually enjoy it, because it must be based on sacrifice rather than pleasure.
The same person, carrying a presumably saintly disposition, cannot or should not enjoy both living in rural Haiti and eating at an upscale Boston restaurant. However, it does not challenge the division between the privileged and underprivileged; indeed, it actually reproduces and maintains it. Thus the server can feel good about doing a good deed or making a sacrifice while maintaining the structural social, economic, cultural, political, etc.
Illich tells the students that, while he respects their motivations, their impact on those they wish to serve will be profoundly negative in both social and cultural terms. He says that they will be able to provide relatively little material gain for those they hope to serve during their brief service work, while simultaneously acting as emissaries for an individualistic, consumerist culture that celebrates a level of wealth that the Mexicans with whom they work cannot possibly achieve.
Through that process, Illich says, they will aggravate class divisions within the community they are serving and then disappear before the consequences of their visit become visible. Although the approach to service of noblesse oblige is largely discredited among scholars and activists, it still carries a great deal of weight in U.
For instance, community service and service-learning programs are often viewed as unassailably positive, with very little attention or critique regarding the particular ways in which those programs operate.
Furthermore, service is often viewed as a politically neutral, and therefore politically safe, way of engaging students in their local communities. In contrast, activism wears its political commitments on its sleeve. As a result, activism is rarely if ever viewed as politically safe, and certainly not neutral. Activism and social movements can take many forms: What distinguishes common understandings of activism from those of service is their view that political engagement in a broad sense is necessary to effect positive social change.
In other words, activist approaches tend to claim that direct service, while often positive and necessary, is not enough. Later, Farmer is criticized for being too focused on direct service even by some of his supporters, such as Howard Hiatt, the former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health:. Farmer, Hiatt seemed to say, should be solely engaged in the battle against those scourges [pandemics], and at a level commensurate with their size.
I have been urging him to take the role of consultant in Haiti and spend most of his time on worldwide projects. But Farmer and his colleagues seem to view his one-on-one doctoring as central to his understanding of the global pandemics.
As Keith Morton claims, service and activism may best be understood not in juxtaposition to one another but rather in the ways each deepens our involvement in the other. Kidder echoes this, describing the approach of Partners in Health as follows:. In public health projects in difficult locales, theory often outruns practice.
Individual patients get forgotten, and what seems like a small problem gets ignored, until it grows large, like MDR [multidrug resistance]. If Mountains Beyond Mountains is intended to inspire us to take action to create a more just and equitable world, it does so through the compelling and charismatic character of Paul Farmer.
But Farmer is also an extreme personality and emulating Farmer can seem, to put it mildly, daunting. By highlighting Farmer as an inspiration for motivating people to become involved with issues of importance, Kidder risks leading his readers to believe that, like Farmer, we need to operate on very little sleep, attend Ivy League schools, acquire not only one but two terminal degrees, and make an intense personal connection with nearly everyone we meet.
He is the author of this book, but he is also one of its main characters, because it is he who must document what he sees by living and working with Paul Farmer.
He is a bit of realist and a pessimist who constantly wonders why Farmer continues his work in the face of almost certain defeat. It goes back to the axiom that having tried is just as important as winning. Being the daughter of famous people, you might expect Ophelia Dahl to have been perfectly content to live her life among the wealthy. But her family faced a great deal of adversity as well, and so it is not unusual that she found herself in Haiti helping Paul Farmer. The novel is divided into twenty-six chapters beginning with the first time Kidder met Farmer in when the United States The first theme - the poor deserve decent health care and living conditions - is the very essence of this book.
The entire documentation of the work of Paul Farmer reflects this idea, one which will probably never be completely attained, but which is well worth the fight to attain it.
Farmer learns in his work that it starts with the individual patient and ends with the wealthy individual who chooses to close his eyes to the misery around him. Kidder comes to realize that Farmer has spent his entire life trying to win the long defeat.
The title is a haitian proverb that translates “beyond the mountains, more mountains.” As it relates to the book, I believe mountains beyond mountains means the never ending struggle to control disease involving the poor.
Free Essay: Dr. Paul Farmer in Mountains Beyond Mountains is a clear example of a selfless man. Dr. Paul Farmer has made it his mission to dedicate his life.
Essays - largest database of quality sample essays and research papers on Mountains Beyond Mountains. The Mountains Beyond Mountains Community Note includes chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis, character list, theme list, historical context, author biography and quizzes written by community members like you.
Read this essay on Mountains Beyond Mountains. Come browse our large digital warehouse of free sample essays. Get the knowledge you need in order to pass your classes and more. Only at wegostyle.ml". Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. Mountains Beyond Mountains Essay Paul Farmer was a kind, devoted doctor who sacrificed his life to help those in need in Haiti.