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A Piece of My Mind
March 6, 2013

Swimming in the Sea of Galilee

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

Author Affiliation: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (opescovi@umich.edu).

JAMA. 2013;309(9):885-886. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.562

My father is an extraordinary man and a captivating orator, who often uses parables to impart significant life lessons. One of my favorites from childhood—and one that he continues to use today—is about the importance of giving back. When it comes to this particular lesson, he favors a story about the Jordan River.

The Jordan River flows along the borders of and within its namesake country, as well as Lebanon, Israel, and Syria. Along the way, it feeds both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee returns the favor, so to speak, and flows back out to the Jordan River. The Dead Sea, however, only takes water from the Jordan River, but gives nothing in return; it is stagnant with no natural outlets. While flora and fauna thrive in the Sea of Galilee, life is unsustainable in the Dead Sea. Though some argue that the Dead Sea's unique waters offer healing benefits, my father's message remains valid, simple, and powerful: In life, we all should be like the Sea of Galilee. We should give back to the world that gives us so much.