Monday, April 14, 2014

He Refused To Give Up

     When Puerto Rico was acquired by the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898, an army surgeon named Dr. Ashford made a startling discovery: Many of the poor islanders who were thought to suffer from malaria were actually infected with hookworm.  Dr. Charles Wardell Stiles, the son of a Methodist minister and a frustrated dreamer on the federal payroll had been circumventing the South for years on behalf of the U.S. Public Health Service.  Acquainted with Ashford's work, he was captured by the wild surmise regarding the poor whites he observed on his trips.

Popular Myth
     It was held by popular myth that the indolent look and sluggish lives of the residents were due to laziness and not an illness.  In September 1902, armed with a microscope Dr. Stiles set out to examine the root cause of their appearances.  His findings were exhilarating, as he discovered that they were actually infected with hookworm and they could be cured with 'fifty cents' worth of salts and thymol.  
     On reporting his findings at a medical convention that December in Washington D.C., he was greeted with both outrage and mocking amusement. The following day, the New York Sun published the lecture under the headline, "Germ of Laziness Found?".

     For several years Dr. Stiles was ridiculed but that did not deter him from his crusade to locate private money to apply his theory.  Life has a way of opening doors when you least expect them and for him it came in 1908 when he was appointed to a commission on country life by President Roosevelt. While touring the the South in November with Walter Hines, another member of the commission, he happened to point out to him that a misshapen man they observed on the train platform was suffering from hookworm and with only fifty cents worth of drugs the man would once again become a useful citizen.  As a board member of the Rockefeller Institute, Page was the perfect ambassador to bring Stiles to the attention of the philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller.

In Passing
     Unknown to Stiles, Page had set the wheel in motion for him to present his discovery to the other members of the board at the end of their tour.  On his return to Washington, he was requested to attend a meeting in New York.  The meeting lasted two days and by the end of the last session, after years of ridicule and useless speeches, the board members of the Institute were sold on a mass mobilization program to eradicate hookworm from the south.  With its success the program was adapted for the rest of the country and then taken worldwide.
     It is easy to give up on our ideas especially when we are face with adversity and criticism.  Stiles was verbally attacked by members of his own profession, medical doctors and the press.  Laughed at and scorned for years he never gave up telling his story until it came to the attention of those who could help.  Today his work lives on though he died years ago.

The Ultimate Story-teller Sacrifice
      Over two thousand years ago a young child was born in Bethlehem not to rid the world of one of many diseases but the save mankind from the cause of all sickness, pain and death.  "I am come," said Jesus, "that they might have life and have it more abundantly."  He too was ridiculed and crucified for our transgressions even though, like Stiles, his work was self-evident.  Today his work continues, however unlike Dr. Stiles, he still lives.

Doesn't come Easy
      Do you have a desire to bring about change?  Are you willing to make the sacrifice needed to bring about this change?  Being successful at anything doesn't come easy.  It takes time, patience and sacrifice. There is a price that has to be paid.  The greater the goal the greater the sacrifice and preparation required. Those willing to pay the price have enjoyed the rewards.  Others have done it and so can you. Have a great day and be blessed.