We measure ourselves by many standards. Our strength and our intelligence, our wealth and even our good luck, are things which warm our heart and make us feel ourselves a match for life.
But deeper than all such things and able to suffice unto itself without them, is the sense of the amount of effort we can put forth…S/He who can make none is but a shadow; s/he who can make much is a hero.
– William James
Dates and deadlines are hard enough to remember, much less meet, so throwing three of them at you at once hardly seems fair….or wise. Unless, as happens to be the case, they are somehow inextricably linked.
September 19 marks the end of the 30-day on-line balloting by which CNS Active Members will choose a Councillor from the Midwest to succeed Nancy Bass, and another from the Northeast to succeed Nigel Bamford. Having worked closely with both Nancy and Nigel the past two years on the Board, and having worked separately with Nancy as PECN President and Nigel as longtime chair of the CNS Awards Committee, I can tell you (although it hardly needs telling): these are very big shoes to fill. Fortunately, the four candidates nominated by their colleagues and chosen from among an outstanding field of nominees as finalists to stand for office by the CNS Nominating Committee are all up to the task. All are fortunate to come from backgrounds and institutions rich in mentors who have themselves held office and won awards in recognition of the admirable effort they have put forth in their calling as child neurologists and in their commitment to the CNS.
September 29 is the opening date of the 50th CNS Annual Meeting in Boston, the date on which we will recognize and thank all past CNS officers and awardees at the Kenneth F. Swaiman Legacy Luncheon.
October 20 is the deadline for submitting nominations for four 2022 CNS Awards: Hower, Sachs, Gold, and Brumback Lifetime Achievement.
The three dates are closely related. The officers you vote for by September 19 and the nominees you submit for awards by October 20 will take their place in a line of succession that began with and has been carried on by those honored at the September 29 Legacy Luncheon. What we are talking about then, or after all, is the Jamesian sense of “effort put forth.” Let me be clear about this: every child neurologist I have known in my 30+ years with the CNS is, in my mind, something of a Jamesian “hero”. And while relatively few have been nominated to run for office and only half been elected, no child neurologist caring daily for patients or probing the diseases and disorders besetting the brain could ever be accused of making no effort or be dismissed as a mere shadow.
Still, some do stand out for expending extra effort, as this year’s cluster of deadlines for electing new officers and nominating award recipients reminds us. It is one of the quiet glories of the Child Neurology Society that it has always openly and democratically left it to the members to decide who would be nominated to serve as its officers or be honored with one of its awards. Doing so has required some effort on the part of its members; minimal effort in the case of voting – it takes less than a minute, really – a little more when submitting nominations honoring career- and lifelong contributions.
At bottom, what is really being asked of each member in terms of effort is relatively simple, if not necessarily easy: it is an exercise in self-reflection and self-knowledge. In voting for officers or nominating someone for an award, each member is essentially asking themselves why they went into child neurology, why they remain so passionately committed to it, what tangible and intangible personal rewards they have reaped, what hopes they might have sown. That latter question is particularly crucial this year as those elected will determine how – and how well – the CNS pivots from its first 50 years to its next 50 years. By submitting a nomination or casting your vote in the election you are putting forth the effort to honor and support those colleagues and mentors whose efforts reflect and project, embody and extend your own at this pivotal point in time where past, present and future so critically, and creatively, hang in the balance.
What is required, at bottom, is “putting forth the effort” to seriously ask yourself two questions: 1) Who in the past put forth the effort needed to make child neurology a calling that I felt drawn to? 2) Who among these candidates will put forth the effort needed to help me continue on that path with the kind and level of passion, commitment and sense of fulfillment that will compel the next generation – a truly diverse
generation – to put forth the effort needed to follow after me and chart new hope-filled paths in an emerging new age of daunting challenges, dazzling opportunities and dizzying uncertainties?
The on-line election portal opens August 20 and closes September 19.
The awards nominaton portal will remain open until October 20. The choice is yours. The chance is yours to put forth the effort to honor the past and shape the future.