The parable of the hollow blocks

There were three workers in a construction site who were busy putting up hollow blocks in the middle of a hot sunny day. The foreman passed by and noticed that they were working at different paces. While they were all placing the blocks one on top of another, their energy levels differed.

The first worker was slowly putting one block on top of another at a slow pace and grumpily cursed as he went along his chores. The second worker worked slightly a bit faster and was doing it quietly, while the third worker was placing the blocks at an amazingly timely motion and was humming a tune the whole time he was working.

The foreman asked the first worker why he was working at that pace and sans energy. He replied, “because I have to work on a hot humid day”. When the second worker was asked why he was working at that pace, but slightly faster than the first worker, he replied, “because I need to finish my work early and earn my pay.” When the third worker was asked where he gets the impetus to work harder with a happy disposition, he replied, “because I am working to finish building a school which many children can use when it is finished early”.

There are many versions to this story, with the kind of building (a church, home, or hospital) being built in the end, depending on the story teller.

Today’s blog post is inspired by Fr. James McTavish during his talk at the recently concluded Philippine Pediatric Society’s Annual Convention held at the PICC. Fr James talked on the topic “Wounded Healers”.

As a people, we are wounded in various ways. From relationships to the workplace or school, we’re broken in some form.

I’m taking the cue from Fr. James (who happens to be a pediatric plastic surgeon) on the healthcare professionals to share my thoughts on being wounded healers.

Taking care of patients in general is not an easy task. There’s the patient and his/her family we need to understand. People think that as doctors we are infallible. I’d like to believe that we all remember why we became healers in the first place. While a few of us (like me) took this road out of serendipity, we are all bound by a Hippocratic Oath of first doing NO HARM.

Most of us in the profession take the higher moral ground of being true healers rather than doing this because of the financial remuneration or the prestige of being called a doctor.

Not all of us took the road of private practice. There are the unsung heroes who serve communities and the government because they know that their roles would make a difference and impact by serving the less fortunate and the needy.

It does not, however, mean that those of us in private practice, the academe or in research look at the practice of medicine in a different light. We create our own passion at addressing the wounds of healing. The academician labours at his/her dedication to teaching and creating better doctors for our future generation and the researcher engages in doing studies aimed at advancing medical science and information. Those in private practice create programs in hospitals and organizations for improving their specialties and health programs in the community.

We are ALL Health Warriors. Every patient is not just a statistic or a case report. We feel the pain and misery of patients whose lives we care for. We are patients as well and we know what it’s like to be sick and what it’s like to face death as well.

Albert Einstein aptly puts it well when he said that we should “strive not to be a success but to be of value”.

And touching other people’s lives through healing and serving with love and dedication with passion like the third construction worker in the parable is the key to healing all wounds.

Healing our wounds will always be our source of joy.

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