Read before Laymens League, Washington, D.C. Dec., 1938.
ARTHUR B. GREEN.
I know Pete pretty well. When I talk to him I do not have to pull my punches, and neither does he. We had not seen each other all summer, so it was a surprise to me that he was resting his two feet on the draw-leaf of his desk, bandaged to twice their size, and a pair of crutches stood against the wall behind him. He was directing everything from where he sat, with a phone at one elbow, stenographer at the other, and a stream of subordinates coming and going in front of him. The perfect picture of a strong man, perfectly sound in every way except his feet.
“High living again I see,” said I. “Why dont you cut it out and you would not be having the gout?”.
“High living me eye!” countered he. “Ive been having these ding-donged sores on my feet all summer and cant seem to get rid of them, and Im getting pretty well tired of it. You know Steve? Wasnt he in your class? Any way, he went to medical school and now he is a big specialist in town. I dont know of a better man. He gets plenty, and I am paying him plenty, and I wouldnt mind that if he only gets me on my feet again. But so far he hasnt, and I am doing everything he tells me to do, and I dont see any progress. Ive just about concluded that doctors dont know very much about their job”.
“What does he say the trouble is?”.
“That just the h– of it. He doesnt know. Think I probably got a stone bruise or something down at the beach. But how would I get a stone bruise on each foot, both at the same time, and not know it?”.
“What is he doing for you, — or to you?”.
“He is doing plenty to me, I can tell you that. He has operated for the fifth time, I believe it is, and the wounds are just beginning to heal again. Before they get healed some new sores always crop out”.
“Well, Pete,” said I, “this is none of my business and it isnt what I came over to talk about, but as long as you seem to be dissatisfied I am going to tell you something. If you were under anybodys treatment and felt content with it, I would not open my trap if you died. I am only talking now because you said you werent getting anywhere and you thought there were no doctors that know what they are doing, or words to that effect. You know I am considerably interested in medicine as a layman”.
“Well, what have you got? Hurry up with it. I have work to do”.
“Then listen to me, my man. Where were your feet when your father and your mother got married?”.
“Be careful, now,” warned Pete. “This is a decent office and I dont want to ask Mabel to go out. I havent finished with my mail yet”.
“I am simply talking about your feet. That is where your trouble is, isnt it?”.
“Yes of course. And I am in the hands of the countrys best specialist. What more can I do? Now go on”.
“But when you started, young man, you had no feet. You were nothing more than a little seed too small for anyone to know you were there. Your feet sprouted out from the inside of you, and that is where your brain would have come from if you had ever grown one. Ever since then, your feet have developed to their present whooping size and have been holding you off the ground and doing their arduous job for you, and getting their nourishment and their repair from inside you, where they started from in the first place, and you have never given them a thought until they got sore on you”.
“Nice story. But what do you want me to do about it?”.
“Think about it, that is what. Why are your feet sore and the specialist and I both also have feet but they are not sore? Do you suppose nobody ever had a stone bruise but you? Didnt you ever stop to think that just as the source of your feet was inside you, the source of your foot trouble might also be inside you?”.
“Well,” Peter reflected, “I still think Steve is a good man. He gets plenty of bright people to come to him and pay him big money. They cant all be wrong. But I will say that Steve never put out a line of talk anything like that”.
“Listen,” I said. “You knew all the time that your feet are only two parts of you. You knew all the time that they came after you did, and that they sprouted out from your inside and have been living on you ever since. Yet when they get sore you let Steve work on your feet, assuming that the rest of you is all right, paying no more attention to what might have given rise to the sores than if he were working on a cadaver, and you have never even asked him why”.
“Do you know any better man than Steve?”.
“I am no advance agent for doctors. I only like the subject and believe I have started to do a little thinking about it. Yes, if you want, I can give you the names of two men around here who at least remember where your feet came from. They dont get big money. But they do know how to treat their patients constitutionally, and they do get some very remarkable cures”.
“Have they ever treated sore feet, like mine?”.
“How do I know? Probably they have. Troubles with your extremities are not likely to be your serious troubles when the doctors knows how to handle medicines and prescribe constitutionally for you as a whole”.
“What would they do for my feet?”.
“The same thing they would do if you have pneumonia. They would get the symptoms that describe you, not your feet, and would get you set in order inside. Then you would take care of your own feet as you have always done and wouldnt know it. When you are well, your feet are well. That is the story. Speaking of Pneumonia, I was reading this morning where the American Association for the Advancement of Science has a report of some researches that they believe will reduce the pneumonia death rate from 35 percent to 27 percent, or something like that.
What I am talking to you about is homoeopathy. You will be interested to know that homoeopathys pneumonia death rate is something around 5 percent already, and homoeopathy is ashamed of that. It ought to be less than 2 percent. Probably it would be if the cases didnt come so much from other treatment and were not in pretty hard shape before they came”.
“Well,” exploded Pete, the super-salesman, “why doesnt everybody know about that? That is important. Why dont they advertise it? Let people know about it. The trouble with homoeopathy is, if what you say is true, it needs some sound advertising”.
That was the business mans diagnosis of homoeopathy, done in swift business like fashion. And, business like, it dismissed the subject without concluding it.
THE MISTAKES IN THE SCENE.
The story carries a negative moral. There is force in the moral in direct proportion with the severity of the illness. You cannot start anyone thinking about the principles of medicine after he had become sick. The sicker he is and the more anxious, the less likely that he will do close thinking, exercise discrimination, depart from custom. The time for sound understanding is beforehand.
The story, if you accept it as a type, would justify very little reliance on casual meeting and casual discussion as a way to get the principles of medicine within reach of those equipped to take them in. Yet, as long as the work of advancing Homoeopathy limits itself to treating patients and letting patients tell others, reliance on chance is complete. And apart from the story, whether typical or not, history would indicate that reliance on chance is far from doing the job.
It is an open question whether or not there is indeed a job to be done, and room for a divergence of view. There is some difficulty in any approach to that question by a layman. Whenever I have an opportunity to discuss it with a homoeopathic physician I usually sense a measure of reluctance, if not mistrust, and as I have come to learn something about the reasons, I have come to respect them and to agree. There is of course a long and honorable tradition, based on the ethics of medicine, that homoeopathic physicians would be the last to violate. Any medical publicity must be within that ethical tradition.
It must not allude to living physicians or their work by name, but stick to principles. Remedies and the details of administration must not appear. If there is a job to be done, it is not a job of salesmanship in the ordinary, for its objective is not mere commercial acceptance. Homoeopathy is not for sale to anybody who will swallow a promise and pay a price. Any publicity that meets homoeopathys requirements will stimulate independent thinking.
To get a commercial product accepted, commercial advertisers agree in sugar-coating their copy, making it pleasing, entertaining, alluring, with not too tight a regard for cold truth. Commercial advertisers fish for bites and bait up for suckers. Ethics or no ethics, homoeopathy would get nowhere on that plan. Homoeopathys public is a collection of real mind, ready to discriminate thoughtfully, of the type that if they do become patients can understand and cooperate, the type that likes to get the answer to the bothersome question, WHY.
Automatically, that very condition limits homoeopathys audience to quite a small fraction of the people, the rare persons who want better than a ready-made brand of service from their physicians and want to understand it. Automatically, that in turn fixes the styles of any publicity that would serve homoeopathy. It will be dignified, quiet, enlightening, uncontentious, reliable.
A JOB OUTLINES ITSELF.
When all misgivings are cleared away, and the proper type of publicity and the proper audience begin to emerge, still the question has not been disposed of whether there is a real job to done. Homoeopathy brings curables to health. Homoeopathy numbers among the curables strange types of malady with which laboratory research has not caught up. Homoeopathy successfully handles cases too involved or too indefinite to be diagnosed, and has been known to cope brilliantly with diseases new to medicine.
Even incurables homoeopathy carries to ripe and effective life spans. And homoeopathy in and of itself is a philosophy important for everyone to understand who can. In short, as a unique and vital humanitarian service, homoeopathy has every qualification except a voice.
All of this could probably be said with about equal force at almost any time in homoeopathic history. But just now, after a century and a third of applying successfully for mankinds benefit laws that are clear and do not change, homoeopathy faces persecution of free science in some other countries, and in the United States the beginnings of socialized medicine. Whether a socialized or government system of medicine will harm homoeopathy may appear more clearly in the future, but for the present there is no expectation that it will do good.
But aside from that, the chances are that if the sort of people who have the capacity understood homoeopathy as it is, much of the very ground would be dissolved from under any demand for socialization. It is not homoeopathy that is growing more involved and more expensive as the years roll on. It is not homoeopathy that wishes to regiment all people under an authoritarian system. Homoeopathy is not the practice of treating in the mass. It deals with each and every individual, as a separate human being, and as a separate whole. Homoeopathy indeed has all the qualifications, but no voice. Is there a job to be done?.
THE DOCTOR-LAYMAN RELATIONSHIP.
Some years ago in the Middle West lived a venerable physician who in his youth had sat at the feet of Dr. Constantine Hering and who therefore undoubtedly understood homoeopathic prescribing. With that start he was as a matter of course engaged in the general practice of medicine. Once a young farm lad came to him with a highly inflamed appendix, expecting to be sent to a hospital for operation. To his surprise he got medicine instead and did not have to be operated. That brought another case, and that another.
Patients who had been saved from the appendix operation gradually filtered into the neighboring population, and did not suffer returns of appendicitis, and seemed to get along very well in other respects. Word got around that the venerable physician and his homoeopathy were great for appendicitis. Like Joseph Jefferson, whose public would let him play nothing but Rip Van Winkle, the white-haired homoeopathist got very little else to do in his old age but rescue inflamed appendices from the knife.
Unless every physician be a born teacher, and devote office time by the hour to lay instruction, the ordinary doctor-patient relationship cannot do homoeopathy justice. But unlike earlier days, when medicine was one of only three learned professions, two circumstances seem to conspire now in favor of a more rational and better designed publicity. Homoeopathy in the first place is a set of rational principles. The principles are within the grasp of a reasoning lay mind.
With guidance and illustration, the reasoning lay mind can understand and appreciate homoeopathys clear laws, enjoy them, and recognize whether a doctor has or has not qualified himself to apply them. In the second place, though the proportion of inquisitive independent thinkers is still minute, there are today numberless callings within range of medicine in their intellectual requirements, where in years gone by there were only the clerical and legal. Medicine today has a better prepared, more selective, larger potential audience than ever before.
LET THE LAYMEN SERVE.
In The Principles of Scientific Management, published twenty- seven years ago, the first sentence of Paragraph one reads: “The Principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee.” That statement of creed came at the height of Americans industrial speed, in the midst of an economy built on the former creed, that the first responsibility of management was a good report for the investors.
Frederick W. Taylor went far enough in this opening sentence to draw attention away from the thought of profit only to the accompanying thought of worker welfare. As he proceeded with his thesis, he developed an interesting corollary, that employer and employee both prosper best when they join forces for the highest service to their customers.
A few years later in Chicago a club started that was to have one representative from each of the separate professions and lines of business, called for that reason “Rotary”. This club made bold to say, for its rallying theme, “He profits most who serves best,” and on that slogan went on to spread all over the world.
About a month ago, George G. Colbean of Chicago, President of the National Paper Trade Association of the United States, Inc., sent a circular letter to member companies calling a meeting to consider principally, among other things, “what could be done by them cooperatively as private industry to take up the slack of unemployment”. President of a trade association, formed originally for mutual protection against economic inroads, among which was labor seeking higher pay, he called up for consideration the trades responsibility toward its workers. But as he developed his thesis he went much farther:.
I believe that trade and industry still have adequate power and resources not only to meet these conditions (meanings those imposed by the Government) but to reform our whole society and place it on a more prosperous economic level than it ever enjoyed before, if we recognize that economic security is our job and that it is not just a debatable political or sociological issue.
Gathered here in Washington last September was the Seventh International Management Congress. On September 20th, Lewis H. Brown, President of Johns-Manville Corporation, closed his address with a seven-point creed for management. Here are four of the seven:.
That we should constantly seek to provide better values at lower costs so that more of our people can enjoy more of the worlds goods.
That we should stimulate the genius of science and utilize methods of research to improve old products and create new ones so as to continuously provide new fields of employment for the present and coming generations.
That management should encourage fair trade practices in business which, whether effected by competition or cooperation, will be so shaped as to be for the best interest of our customers and of society as a whole.
That it is managements duty to be alert to its own shortcomings, to the need for improvement, and to new requirements of society, while always recognizing the responsibility of its trusteeship.
Says another great head of a great industry: “A basic article of our business creed is that no sale is economically constructive unless it profits the buyer as much as or more than the seller”.
Nine years of business depression are beginning to bend business thinking. Business, for its own good, begins to reckon with its own social obligations. The good of society as a whole begins to take preference in sound business calculation over mere financial trusteeship. As a means toward a higher level of prosperity than any already reached, business and industry turn altruistic, write into their articles of faith, “He profits most who serves best.” There is new point in the old fact that industry and business never could have made out without their public. It is their public that they are working for.
With just such an alignment medicine is in exact parallel. Medicines public is the community of laymen. Laymen need physicians, often urgently, sometimes desperately, but still comparatively. Physicians need of laymen is absolute.