For over 250 years in our country the moral, ethical and legal predicate that underlies our legal system stood on Natural Law and Biblical principles that were well known to the everyday citizen. These were taught to our children from their earliest years in elementary school through college and even professional schools.
Today many in the professional classes, particularly in medicine and law have little grounding in not only Biblical but traditional Enlightenment ideals. Several years ago, a young surgeon approached me at an American College of Surgeons conference in Big Sky Montana and confessed that the last time he took a class in civics or Western Civilization was in the 10th grade. In high school his schedule was filled with advanced placement classes followed by a heavy schedule of basic science classes in college. In medical school the first two years were basic sciences and then two years with clinical sciences. No time for outside reading, or Bible study or even regular attendance at church or Mass.
I asked him when the last time was, he read any fiction and his answer was high school. In my own life I faced a similar dilemma, and that is not to mention the obligations of raising a family with young children. I am sure young lawyers, engineers, chemists and physicists grinding in their graduate and post graduate careers face a similar dilemma.
Prior to WWII in public and private schools classical learning and religious education were part of the curriculum. The purpose of education was to teach life tools—reading, writing and math, and in addition create good citizens with a civic education and an understanding of the moral predicates that underpin our republican form of governance.
The two large hospitals in Boise were both founded by religious. St. Luke’s by the Episcopalian Church and St. Al’s by the Holy Cross Sisters. Across our country medicine arose from the shoulders of European medicine at the beginning of the twentieth century in places like The Johns’ Hopkins and The Mayo clinic. The material and spiritual nature of man and the dignity of human life were understood—”prima fascia”. The moral nature of “vocation” and the covenant relationship between doctor and nurse and patient, and then God was understood.
I cannot help but believe that those founding sisters and brothers, and the doctors and nurses that served at those institutions for the next 100 years would be appalled by the politicalization of the medical and nursing professions that has occurred. We are today witnessing what happens when the “technical and scientific” are allowed to progress without ethical and moral underpinnings. The Geneva Convention. The UN Charter, and the lessons of Nurenberg, seem not to speak to the younger generations of professionals, hospital administrators, hospital boards of directors, and citizens in general. They seem to be too busy “living their lives” to take the time to understand their past and why they can live the lives they have today.
Historically it was understood that there was a higher power and the rules of the game, and the bar was set by God, not the rules that man can make up on a prn bases. When we believe otherwise, we become our own gods. This was the bases of our legal system and was the very foundation of the Renaissance, the birth of the scientific age and scientific discovery where the early fathers of science were devoutly religious (read Copernicus Galileo, and Blaise Pascal or even Einstein), and The Enlightenment, and through several Great Awakenings.
We need another Great Awakening in our country, but especially in the professions. The only thing advanced by setting the man-made bar so low, is the advancement of the state of chaos.
May I make a suggestion for St. Al’s—a good way to begin would be to institute daily Mass at your hospital.
For St. Luke’s may I suggest availing your staff and administrators the opportunity for daily Bible study and Episcopalian Adoration. Publish those events daily.
These two suggestions were practices followed by the founders of your institutions. Look what they created under Providential guidance. Look at what is being destroyed without it.
If, drunk with sight of power, we looseRudyard Kipling
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!