A friend posted an item on FaceBook which made me sit back and think. It is a prayer written by a famous surgeon in 1953 and published in the British Medical Journal at the time. It struck me that the good surgeon would probably, today, be ridiculed for his faith, and the BMJ would almost certainly NOT publish a prayer of any sort in this day and age. Yest, the points he makes in it apply equally to a wide range of matters. Here it is as written -
From inability to leave well alone;
From too much zeal for what is new and contempt for what is old;
From putting knowledge before wisdom, science before art,
cleverness before common sense;
From treating patients as cases; and
From making the cure of a disease more grievous than its endurance,
Good Lord, deliver us.
The thing that stands out in this most clearly is the fact that each of the supplications is a common sense approach. It was written at a time when antibiotics were "new" and "exciting," offering the prospect of a cure for every ailment, yet overuse, and inappropriate us, has brought us to a point of resistant bacteria and a need to develop ever more powerful (and toxic) varieties of antibiotic to deal with them. As ever, Pandora's Box having been opened, what has come out, will not go back in.
The cures have, in many cases, become as grievous as the disease.
But reading this again, it can be said to apply to a very wide range of matters, some well out of the medical sphere. Certainly in the last fifteen or so years we have seen a "zeal for the new and a contempt for the old" in far too many circles, particularly politics and business. The dragons teeth having been sown, the dragons are starting to emerge - and the result of the reformers "zeal for the new" is starting to bite. Societies are funny things, to a large extent they are built around common values and traditions, destroy one aspect and the rest collapses like the proverbial house of cards. You take a card out of the structure at your peril.
Since the late 1990s we seem to have suffered a great dea from the actions of those who suffer from the inability to leave well alone. The result is the massive national debts we currently see, the bankrupted economies of several states who chased the Utopian dreams promised by certain ideologies and now we face the consequences - and not just in the €urozone, but in the UK and the US.
I suspect that the cure of the disease is as grievous as the disease itself, but, as the "disease" is terminal if untreated, we seem to have little or no choice in the matter. Perhaps the resurfacing of this prayer is a timely reminder, perhaps it should be the compulsory opening statement of every council and every parliament!
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