“Yo creo que nada sucede por casualidad. Sabes? Que, en el fondo, las cosas tienen un plan secreto aunque nosotros no lo entendamos.”
In his book entitled “La Sombra del Viento,” Carlos Ruiz Zafón reflects on the fact that things – in our lives – don’t happen by chance rather they are part of an overall alignment of circumstances, perhaps part of a plan that we don’t understand.
As I write my first message as President of the PAAO, I also reflect on the circumstances that brought me to have the honor and the privilege of this position. Certainly, as the first Canadian President of the PAAO, my Canadian institution McGill University and my city, Montreal, are intrinsic parts of it. Two of the PAAO founders were Harry S. Gradle and Conrad Berens, also from the North American continent. Equally important, my irreversible and unchangeable bond with Escola Paulista de Medicina brings me very close to Moacyr Alvaro, the third founder of the PAAO. I imagine that I am not the PAAO President by chance, but as part of my love for this society.
I am also asking myself, what type of leader I would like to be. What comes to my mind is the concept that I should follow you, the PAAO members, as I am your leader. In the words of Lao Tzu; “To lead people, walk behind them.” I will certainly do that.
PAAO is an exceptional society known for embracing its diversity and uniqueness across the Pan-American countries. I hope to continue the tradition of its founders, as well as the past presidents, the excellent women and men who have preceded me in this position. I would like to ensure that the ophthalmologists of the Pan-American countries are an integral part of this society. The PAAO’s diversity is so important to me and I will strive to be a President who will include the opinions of its members and lead the society by representing the people.
During the next two years, we will enhance and expand the excellent programs that the PAAO offers to its members and at the same time, establish new initiatives that would add value to the PAAO membership. The establishment of the PAAO Brazilian Chapter, in the next few weeks, is just one of the examples.
Pablo Daponte and I have already started working towards our PAAO 2021 congress (May 26-29, 2021) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I would like to invite all of you to participate in the early stages of the organization of the congress with our Argentinean colleagues and friends. As we all know, passion, dedication and hard work are our values. The words of Jorge Luis Borges, the famous Argentinean writer, “Planta tus propios jardines y decora tu propia alma, en lugar de esperar a que alguien te traiga flores” echo our desire to work extremely hard side by side with all of you, starting right now, to achieve the PAAO goals during our congress in Buenos Aires.
The PAAO is really its membership – each of our successes will give rise to great success altogether as one group. I encourage each member to be hands on in our society, thinking as Fernando Pessoa taught us “A vida vale a pena se a alma não é pequena.”
I look forward to working and interacting with each and every PAAO member throughout the different countries. It is an honor to serve as your President and I look forward to our continued success in the next years to come.
Miguel N. Burnier Jr. MD MSc PhD FRCSC
PAAO President, 2019-2021