Tue, 08 Feb 2000

Paradox of life

During the Vietnam War, a young American surgeon went to Vietnam. The cruel war had claimed not only thousands of the lives of young soldiers, but there were many who lost limbs after standing on some of the one million land mines believed to be deployed by the enemy. Surgeons had their hands full.

Among the patients, there was a young soldier who received special attention from the surgeon. The operation took about six hours, but the patient lost both his eyes and legs. Despite the terrible loss suffered by the soldier, the surgeon took pride in the fact that he saved a man's life.

However, the doctor was not prepared to face the bitter criticism that the mass media heaped upon him for his humanitarian work. Instead of compelling the patient to lead the terrible life of an invalid, the doctor should have let the patient die a merciful death, the media argued. And there were many ways and medicines which could be used to avoid a painful death, the critics' said.

Because of the stinging criticism, the doctor was overwhelmed by a feeling of remorse. The sense of pride in saving a man's life was nothing compared to his sadness.

Many years passed before the doctor visited his patient's home. To his great surprise, the wheelchair-bound soldier was in great spirits, the father of two daughters and a teacher of braille students. The Almighty is merciful indeed!