Christmas - Faith, hope and love
It’s the final countdown to Christmas and the sounds of Christmas Carols are filling all the major shopping centres around this glorious State of ours. One that continues to be a young child’s favourite is “We Three Kings”, because at and of term Primary School celebrations, that’s when they get to dress up as Foreign Potentates, paint beards on their young faces and parade into the classroom wearing long robes and bearing gifts.
But one of the quirks of Tradition is that it doesn’t always get it right. In fact, no-one knows how many Wise Men there were who followed that famous star. According to the appropriate religious records: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem”. So in fact we don’t really know whether they were kings at all, or how many of them there were either
But glossing over these minor, historical distractions, Tradition dictates that there were Three Kings and they came bearing gifts - Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh - and the focus of their attention at the time, was the newly born Jesus. And it was this same Jesus who was to leave us with some inspiring, if often very challenging, advice: advice which down the ages has been taken up by people of faith, and people of no faith alike. And seeing as it’s Christmas I’d like to mention one of his sayings which most of us have heard, especially at weddings
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these
… and I’d like to apply them to Health and Medicine.
Over the last 200 years the pace of change in the scientific and medical fields has been enormous, and it has really accelerated in the past 50 years. But what has remained fairly constant over that period is Faith in our Doctors and Nurses. But in the last 5 to 10 years we, the consumer, have been bombarded with so much information that it is difficult to discern the truth from the propaganda. With the advent of the internet and twitter, information is just a press release away, and those with serious diseases can often be left confused and lost when “hopes of a cure” are flashed up on their screens, only to be blighted a few days later by the addendum the the “hoped for cure, may be available in 10 to 15 years” - which sadly is fairly standard fare after such press releases
That’s why we need to maintain Faith in our own Doctors. They do have a lot to do, and you can’t expect them to be up to date on every tiny area of Medicine. But what they do know is where to look for the right information, and who is the best person to give YOU the best advice on YOUR particular problem.
I love this quote: “For every complex problem there is a simple solution...which is always wrong” The human body is an enormously complex organism and anyone who thinks they have the slightest knowledge of how it all works is a liar! Yes, we have experts who are pushing back the boundaries of our ignorance in their small areas of interest, but we still have a vast distance to travel before we can confidently say “We’re in control”. But even though I know this to be true, my level of Hope in our understanding of our amazing bodies, increases on an almost daily basis.
Our medical scientists are a new breed of investigators who continue to question the “status quo” in order that they can provide better outcomes in every area under investigation. This has meant that our view of what cancer is, and how to treat it is changing and being constantly refined, resulting in better “survival rates” with less side effects. We are also much more aware that not only are we polluting our planet with toxic waste, but we’re doing the same to our bodies through poor diet choices and lack of physical activity. It is thought that the majority of the health problems of today are a result of our very own life-style choices.
I have great Hope that we can help shake people out of their lethargy and help them to engage more actively in their own lives, and the lives of their families and of their communities.
And the greatest gift of all is Love.
To love another is one of the most beautiful achievements of a human being: but to have that love reflected back is what makes that love complete. But love is not just a feeling, often is has to be a daily decision - in other words, “suffering” and love often will go hand in hand.
There are many millions of people who have been wounded by a lack of love in their formative years and have become angry, depressed, anxious, risk takers, drug or alcohol dependent etc. And there are countless others who are isolated by the very nature of their illness or disease. All these people need help, and they need it from those who do not judge them because of their actions or looks - and our medical teams who take on the care of these wounded individuals are exhibiting the kind of love that you don’t read about in romantic novels.
I am constantly amazed that generation after generation, young people enter the medical field in order to help others. Many of us after a lifetime on the front line will often tell you that we’ve received so much from those whom we’ve attempted to care for: and that is a rock solid fact. It’s the giving and receiving of Faith, Hope and Love between we who are the Carers, and those it is our privilege to care for, that makes our lives such an amazing gift.
Happy Christmas to everyone of you.