Sunday, 5 August 2012

Motivation and ramifications

Almost twenty years late, I watched Schindler's List last night. I wish I hadn't waited so long - there are so many powerful moments and ideas. One thing that fascinated me was motivation. I may have got it completely wrong, but Schindler seemed to change during the story. Initially motivated solely by the pursuit of money and pleasure, by the end of the story he had taken personal incredible risks to save the lives of people persecuted and tortured by the social group to which he belonged.

I'd love to find out what motivated Isabella to study medicine. Another Isabel, Isabel Hutton, took the same medical course as Isabella did a couple of years earlier and wrote a detailed account of it.

"It became tiresome," she wrote, "being asked by comparative strangers what made me decide to study medicine. To have enlightened them would have been to tell my life history, my ideals and my ambitions. At first I felt honour bound to try to explain what I hardly knew myself. ..... I learned to say flippantly, "To earn my living." This profoundly shocked but effectively silenced enquiries, for they seemed to want to hear something more revealing, romantic or hifalutin."

People had preconceived ideas of what might drive a young woman through years of study to becoming a doctor.

Like Schindler, this particular young lady did not meet those expectations.

She continues, "Practically all the women medical students of my time were prompted by a missionary spirit as well as a desire to succeed in their profession. Quite a number were the daughters of medical missionaries and had already dedicated themselves to the field; others - like myself - had realised the need for women doctors at home."

I wish there were more clues as to Isabella's drivers. And what were their consequences? Schindler's drivers led to the failure of his marriage and his businesses, but there were 6,000 descendants from the 'Schindler Jews' instead of nothing but names on memorials and Nazi death lists.