I read an interesting story the other day: A story about a person who had a dream and a passion. A story about a person who pressed on even though the establishment thought otherwise. A story that right does prevail.
It is the story of Dr. Martin Couney and his invention of incubators, the heated boxes that keep premature infants alive. Dr. Couney started his idea in 1896. Unfortunately the medical establishment rejected his claims yet undaunted Dr. Couney continued on, funding his work by charging people money (10 cents to eventually 25 cents) to see the tiny babies at various world and national exhibitions e.g. Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo NY 1901, New York World's Fair in 1939. One permanent exhibition was at Coney Island as a sideshow attraction. It was there that the parents could come, free of charge and see their babies.
In the article there was an interview with a ninety-six year old who was placed in the incubator on Coney Island in 1920. She lived there for six months. She said that years later she went to see the babies as a visitor. Dr. Couney was there so she took the opportunity to introduce herself. Dr. Couney then introduced her to a gentleman who was looking at his baby. Dr. Couney encouraged the father that here was one of the incubator babies and she survived. "And that's how your baby will grow up."
What I love about the story is Dr. Couney's perseverance. I can only imagine the medical establishment's ridicule at this "medical" showman. It was only after time that he has been heralded as a founding father in neonatology. It is estimated that he saved about 7,500 babies over the course of his career.
Years later he received a note from renowned pediatrician Dr. Julius Hess, "Now that I cannot be with you in person may I be allowed to thank my "great teacher" in this wholly unsatisfactory way for your great contribution to me and the medical profession. Yours has not only been one of scientific leadership but equally important to progress a most ethical one in every respect, and you can look back on a life well spent.
What I like too is the thought that something that was considered a "freak" became acceptable. No more do we think of the wee babe in the NICU as freakish or do we parade any individual with a deformity or disability. There is a hope for those who are not just like others- that each person has value.
What about you? Is there something that you are called to do but it is not part of the "establishment" meaning norms or cultural acceptance? Do you feel that it is the right thing to do? How do you press on? How are you in treating people who are "different" than you? Do you find the commonality?