This I Believe

Thea - Springfield, Oregon
Entered on November 15, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: gratitude

A Letter to My Physician, who may need a shot in the arm…

Dear Doc,

This is not something you’re going to be able to use to pay any bills. And I’m not necessarily writing it as a thank you for your helping me; rather, this is in response to a few observations I made while visiting your office that caused me to think sometimes you have doubts about whether it’s all worth it and maybe you should have opened a taco stand, instead.

This I believe: there is no act of kindness you have committed, however deliberate or unconscious, that is wasted, Doc. Even though the rest of the world may seem at times to be ungrateful; nonetheless, the good you do heals—including and quite beyond what you do directly as a practicing physician. The trouble is that it’s easy to measure harm; it’s a great deal more visible. Measuring healing is more difficult: when you give someone a genuine smile and a pat on the back, the results are less spectacular than when you sock someone in the jaw, right? Yet that person may go back out into the parking lot and the greater world, and because he or she has just received your compassion, that person may pass it on to someone else, even if it’s something as simple as allowing another to change lanes in traffic without laying on the horn. Then that person, allowed to change lanes without a fight, may go on to do something just as carelessly courteous, and so on. The result being the world is less fraught in a slowly widening pool just from a single act of kindness. When you stack up a whole bunch of kindnesses, that pool becomes vast. Just because it’s hard to see doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

This, for me, is the definition of faith: when something stands to reason that you can’t necessarily see or measure, yet it’s still there. It still has an effect.

There’s a lot of toxic nastiness going on in the world, I won’t argue that—the medical field itself is rife with greed and heedless ambition. But Doc, it would be a whole lot more nasty if you hadn’t been doing your thing for all your people all these years—truly.

And it isn’t given to any of us to know whether a single act of kindness on our part might be the world’s saving grace, is it?

Doc, who you are and the good you do are not merely enough for one man. Who you are and the good you do are at once vital and glorious. Being a good person, especially as a physician, can be a thankless task. The fact that you’ve done it for so long is nothing less that completely amazing, and should not go unremarked.

So, I am remarking on it. Good job, Doc, and thank you very much. If I can ever do something nice for you, just let me know.