By Edward Feinberg, DMD
Renowned journalist and author Bill O’Reilly calls his TV interviewing hot seat the “No Spin Zone”. The zone is a place where lies are not tolerated, and where rationalizations that condone wrongdoing are rejected. Everything in the zone is evaluated on hard evidence and facts. It is, says Bill, “a nightmare place for the charlatans and deceivers” he interviews. Some of these characters are caught off guard and squirm in their seats, while others spew denial, scarcely recognizing the difference between right and wrong. Who are they? They are high-level government officials, famous clerics, entertainment celebrities and media moguls! They are people idolized by the American Public, “role models” who set a standard for appropriate ideals and behaviors. Everyone lies about something (especially the politicians), the standard says, what difference does it make in the long run? Who hasn’t shrugged off such statements as “everyone cheats a little on their taxes”, and the “insurance company won’t know the difference”?
We are assaulted by this type of thinking every day, but we shouldn’t accept it. In his book The No Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America, Bill Reilly challenges each of us to establish a “Personal No Spin Zone”, just like his TV zone. It is not an easy challenge because it demands clear and flexible thinking and the ability to base value judgments and hard evidence. This type of thinking is the rock of integrity and reputation; and the only type of thinking that will allow those with conscience to sleep at night.
I was lucky enough to have been brought up in the No Spin Zone. I had a mentor—my father–who lived by ideals and never compromised them, who did not lie, and who always strove to do his best. He never accepted dogma as gospel unless it was backed with solid evidence. I worked with my mentor for 23 years and I marveled at the amount of evidence he amassed for his crown and bridge techniques. He documented thousands of cases over a 50 year period with X-Rays and slides. Amazing! What really impressed me, however, was his dogged determination to do his best. He threw out impressions that 99% of dentists would have accepted hands down, and he remade cases that weren’t up to his standards without batting an eyelash.. Money was never an issue when it came to doing the right thing. I can still hear his words every day. “You have to be your own worst critic”, he used to say. “Nobody is going to be looking over your shoulder. When you draw the line, where are you going to draw it? Whenever you accept a result you know in your heart is not your best, you have drawn a line. It is bad enough that success can be compromised by unknown factors. When you know the answer, you must follow through.”
Creating a personal No Spin Zone simply boils down to honesty—honesty with others and honesty with ourselves. When we lie, we have drawn a line. When we condone wrongdoing with rationale, we have drawn a line. Honesty is what patients expect of us, and it is the backbone of our reputation. Reputation is everything—it is our integrity and it is our career. Colleagues who have lost theirs know that once lost it is nearly impossible to get it back.
The beauty of living in the No Spin Zone, says Bill O’Reilly, is “feeling clear and content at the end of the day.” What a great feeling! We who live in this zone don’t draw lines, and we can look anyone in the eye with pride in ourselves and be proud of what we have accomplished. We have been the best healers, artists and teachers that we can be. We are the real role models—not the media superstars. If only we could convince our sick society! We would change the world.
This editorial appeared in the May, 2002 issue of the Ninth District Dental Association Bulletin.