22 September 2020

“The Reason for Medicine is LOVE.”

What is the Reason for Medicine?

This Question was presented to readers on our email list several days ago. One immediate response came from Nicolas Ortiz Cué, our friend who lives outside Mexico City. It reads as follows:

‘Indeed there are many reasons for medicine.
‘Amongst them I like an altruistic point of view and say that the care, help and love of others is part of the care and love for our community and self. It is a way of gratefulness, of sharing and of moving forward to a better world (health, capacity and ease of “evil” forces that bring abut suffering, pain, and incapacity to one and others). This is even clearer if we consider that humanity and human health are also part of nature and all is connected in unity.
‘A far cry from today’s profit and drug selling industry, but I am sure that even today, there are many that understand medicine beyond mere material benefit.’

The essence of Nic’s response should be obvious. His answer fits neatly with one given long ago. The Reason for Medicine is Love. The great physician Paracelsus wrote those words, generations ago.

Philippus Theophastus Bombast of Hohenheim aka Paracelsus was born in Switzerland in the late 15th century. He died before age 50 but left reams of writings on medicine and philosophy, alchemy and magic. These few words of his which we ran across only recently may be his most important.

Paracelsus believed that the calling to be a physician was a very high one. Real doctors, in his mind, are called only by God and trained by Nature. While much he taught is couched in the medical jargon of his day, The Reason for Medicine is Love passes beyond time and language. It follows on the simple truths taught millennia ago by Jesus Christ who commissioned his disciples - we are all supposed to be disciples - to preach, teach and heal. 

Unfortunately, humanity has seen the erosion of the simple ideas of Christ and Paracelsus for centuries, not just generations. 

We have forgotten or ignored the inner side of things and focus in medicine as in so much else in life on material benefits and physical problems. For ages, the reason for medicine has come to fixing and repairing, arresting and curing. That while, we might recall as a friend used to say, “You can cure a ham, but not human beings.”

Medicine has become a “science” and has largely lost the art of healing as well as the gift of loving. Love should be the first course taught in medical school. But, Love has been lost in the minutiae of huge textbooks, complicated laboratories, expensive tests, and convoluted protocols.

With the complications and advancements of civilization, we have forgotten simple, but very important things.

We look at life so much from the material viewpoint that we too often forget about the intangible but really more important parts of life - the emotional, mental, social, spiritual aspects. The Truth, Beauty and Goodness which are fundamental to human existence.

Such virtues pay little heed to the financial part of physical life and medical practice. They go far beyond them.

The public as well as physicians have lost touch with caring and loving patients and neighbors. Medicine is all too often a mercenary measure - people paid to CARE for others. We hand over the responsibility and the honor of LOVING and CARING for others to professionals with certificates and degrees.

Medical personnel may be well meaning but all sorts of things get in the way of offering up Love as the Reason for Medicine. When money is part of the occasion, Love far too often gets short shrift.

Oswald Croll, another 16th-century physician, followed the lead of Paracelsus in saying, “The best and chiefest Foundation of Physick (Medicine-Healing) is faith in God, and love to our neighbour …”

This physician-writer says, “As we are made in the image and likeness of God, we all have the potential to aid and even heal our neighbors and family in simple godly ways.”

Let us dare to remember the real possibilities of bringing forth Love as the Reason for Medicine and of addressing the Opportunity which Illness and Injury provide.

Comments always welcome at theportableschool at gmail dot com.

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