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Ezekiel Emanuel is the Chair of the Department of Bioethics at the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Emanuel is a well-known authority on[…]

Most of us don’t think our obituary ought to start, “He died with seven billion dollars.”

Question: Whom would you interview, and what would you ask?


Ezekiel Emanuel: I’ve actually talked to most of the people that; I’ve had the privilege of being able to talk to Bill Clinton. I’ve had the privilege of talking to other politicians. I’ve had the privilege of talking to many great Nobel Prize winning scientists.

I actually haven’t found that many barriers to talking to the people I want to talk to. So I don’t know that there’s one person that would really be burning who I haven’t been able to get to talk to and have a conversation with. So I’ll pass on that question. I don’t know.


Question: What question should we be asking ourselves?


Ezekiel Emanuel: Oh, I think the question each of us is, “How are we going to make the world a better place?” When we die, how is the world, in small and big ways; it could be as local and communal as, you know, I raise great kids. I led this Boy Scout or Girl Scout troupe. It was very important for these kids’ development to, you know . . . I completely transformed this part of American society or world society. Or “this” village is better because of . . .

I think if we spend time trying to think of how we would write our obituary, and what we would want our obituary to say, the world would be a lot better place. Most of us don’t think our obituary ought to start, “He died with seven billion dollars.” Well if that isn’t the way you want your obituary to start off with, then you ought to think about how you’re making the world better. You know, if you’ve got a lot of either intellectual or financial or other resources, the question is how can you best employ them so that tomorrow, things will be better than they are today?


Recorded: July 5, 2007


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