The silver mustachioed Patch Adams wore whimsical clothes, but shared a serious message with Auraria students gathered to hear the doctor speak Sept. 19.
Adams wore an “Operation” tie with a wildly patterned purple and green shirt while he spoke about the U.S.’s healthcare system, capitalism and maintaining happiness in everyday life.
“I propose the idea of never having a bad day again,” Adams said during his talk, “Patch Adams: Living a Life of Joy.”
The board-certified medical doctor stressed that happiness is a choice and that everyone can achieve it if they try.
“I’m not talking about inner peace,” Adams said. “I’m talking about you’re so damn happy it shows.”
This message resonated with some students attending the presentation in the Tivoli Turnhalle.
“I thought it was really interesting,” said Tegan Feret, a freshman in pre-medicine at UCD. “He talked a lot about things I really value but I don’t know how to demonstrate in my own life.”
Adams was born into a military family and moved around a lot. He was 16 when his father died and his family moved to the segregated South. The injustice he saw between blacks and whites in the 1960s helped him discover some hard truths for himself.
“I realized my country was fake and religion was fake,” Adams said.
He refused to back down from his beliefs and was beat up almost every day of high school as a result of this. After being hospitalized several times for depression, Adams realized that it was his choice to be happy and he believes everyone can make that choice if they wish.
“If you have food and a friend, what are you bitching about?” Adams said.
Adams promotes communal living and thinks that television was the worst invention of the 20th century.
A medical doctor for the past 42 years who has never charged a patient, he believes that most people in the healthcare system value money over compassion.
Adams thinks that doctors should spend more time with their patients and that the U.S. should take care of its sick.
“No medical school in the world teaches a class in compassion,” Adams said.
Adams is working to build his own hospital that will be a communal eco-village. Building began on the hospital in 2011 but will not be completed until Adams receives more funding. He hopes to eliminate 90% of costs and get rid of the hierarchy between doctors and other members of staff.
“I’m a communist like Jesus was a communist,” he said.
Adams travels with clowning groups to war-torn and impoverished countries all over the world.
He described what it was like to hold a child dying of starvation who was so malnourished that they could no longer speak. Adams’ voice broke and he began to cry.
“Here you can see the hell it is for me,” Adams said.
Because of what he’s seen, he believes that the rich should be taxed at 95%.
Brent Jaster, a family physician in the Denver area who did his residency at UCD, attended the show in clowning gear. Jaster worked with Adams when he was a medical student, volunteering with him in Virginia in 1998.
“It’s sad to know that 14 years later, we’re still working and repeating the same message,” Jaster said.
Adams opened up a question and answer session to the audience for the last portion of the talk. Some members agreed wholeheartedly with Adams’s views and some adamantly disagreed. Many of the things Adams discussed were a shock to students in attendance.
“I was surprised,” said Jorge Torres, a junior studying sociology at UCD. “It was a lot more political than I thought it’d be.”
Student activities was the MSU Denver sponsor for the event.
People: Patch Adams