“One problem I see with those of us who want to be humane is that while we invariably support calls for justice at a macro level, some of us are not above taking advantage in our personal, day-to-day dealings. I once rented a room in a house full of Marxists, and one of them was one of the least just individuals I’ve ever met. Yet he regularly marched in favor of justice for the oppressed peoples of this world. If we want peace, it’s essential that we be peaceful. And if we want justice, we have to be just—down to the smallest transactions. I think a lot of people can agree with this easily. But there are always “grey areas.” That’s where we have to be especially disciplined and thoughtful.” -Mark Bittner, We Must Be Just, April 2013

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sharing The Abundance

The Hippocratic Oath
"I swear by Apollo the physician and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-Heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation - to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and further, from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times, but should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot."
- Hippocrates

Hippocrates is credited with being the "father of modern medicine," but there was much more to him than that. He believed in sharing his knowledge in order to benefit man, not only in his lifetime, but for generations following him. I would like to call your attention to the first sentence of the above quote. Hippocrates speaks of sharing his knowledge, free of charge, with his own sons, the sons of his teachers, and certain disciples, or followers, in the medical community. He believed in sharing knowledge for the betterment of mankind so that they may be able to care for themselves with what they learn. Then, in turn, pass their knowledge on to others who are interested in learning what it is they have to offer. He was willing to do this "without fee or stipulation" so that the knowledge he possessed could be passed along to others in order to help everyone.

This definition of "knowledge" is found in the American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster 1828 edition:

1. A clear and certain perception of that which exists, or of truth and fact; the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of our ideas.
We can have no knowledge of that which does not exist. God has a perfect knowledge of all his works. Human knowledge
is very limited, and is mostly gained by observation and experience.
2. Learning; illumination of mind.
3. Skill; as a knowledge of seamanship.
4. Acquaintance with any fact or person.
5. Cognizance; notice.
6. Information; power of knowing.

Having knowledge isn't just the memorization of facts, it is "illumination of mind." It is also having a clear perception of truth and fact, obtained mostly through observation and experience. Hippocrates didn't gain his knowledge by sitting behind a desk, writing down answers and taking tests. He studied under the guidance of mentors, spent time in libraries, and treated those that asked for his help. He learned by emulating those who already possessed the skills he was wanting to be proficient in, as well as searching out knowledge from other sources. He was able to live up to his potential, feeling that he was doing right by humanity and leaving a legacy of good works and knowledge in order to be "respected by all men, in all times."

Not everyone will leave a legacy that is esteemed by so many as that of Hippocrates, but we do leave a legacy. What legacy are you leaving for your posterity? What knowledge are you seeking that will give you the skills you need in order to edify the lives of those around you? We should always be working towards the improvement of our minds and strengthening the abilities we feel will uplift and support the lives of those we come in contact with. We then have the responsibility to share what we learn so that our posterity will be better, and more knowledgeable, than we are.

Everyone should have the opportunity to obtain knowledge, but the reality is that there are many who are never given that chance. There are many who are blessed with an abundance of knowledge and choose to greedily keep it for themselves, or sell it for a heavy price. There are many who are blessed with an abundance of knowledge who spend their lives trying to help others and share what they know, freely and generously. If knowledge is to be purchased there will always be many who will never be able to partake of a greater life. If knowledge is freely shared and generously given, when asked for, there will be very few, if any, left in the darkness of ignorance. Knowledge should not be give only to the elite that can afford the price of purchase. Knowledge is a gift that is meant for all mankind to be sharers and partakers of.

Men are given the chance to be stewards over many things such as children, money, land, peoples, animals and knowledge. As stewards we are to take care of our charges in the best possible way. With certain charges, such as money, land, animals and knowledge, part of that care may be in freely sharing our abundance with those who are less fortunate than we are. Giving all that we can enriches our own lives and blesses the lives of those we share with. Hording knowledge and keeping it to a select few will create a society of ignorant people, slaves to what they are told to believe and, therefore, slaves to those who possess the knowledge. Freely sharing of our abundance in knowledge can keep us all a free and intelligent people.

Soaring Potential

To fly with an eagle is to see sights unseen, as starlings fill the skies.

Even that little brown bird on the ground knows where it’s potential lies.

The ostrich and emu share a common trait, running is their forté.

Other birds, when allowed to be, seem to enjoy their play

A bobbing cockatoo dancing on it’s perch is truly a silly sight.

Now imagine that bird, free with its flock, as it passes in graceful flight.

Have you ever seen a pandemonium of parrots descend upon a tree back home?

For, you see, in reality, parrots weren’t bred to be alone.

The nightingale brings beauty to our ears, the peacock beauty to our eyes.

While all through the trees, where the mourning doves roost, hang the mourning dove’s mournful cries.

The flamingo stands on one leg for hours, while the penguin soars through the deep.

And though variety abounds throughout, they’re all birds from their very first peep.

There are birds that mimic, birds that screech and birds that can sing a soothing tune.

There are birds that welcome the morning as it breaks and birds who serenade the moon.

There is beauty to be found throughout the world of birds. Still, and none the less,

Only a bird, who is allowed to soar free, knows it’s own potential best.

“Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings.”

André Gide

"All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education"
- Sir Walter Scott