AFFLICTED: as a young child and young adult, it was rather commonplace to hear someone being spoken of as ‘a poor afflicted child or person’. I learned rather quickly the implication of that word ‘afflicted’. It meant that the person being spoken of generally had experienced the misfortune of being befallen with a painful and/or crippling disease or disorder.
In those days prenatal care had not yet reached the summit of excellence it enjoys today. Consequently, many babies were born with crippling birth defects. In addition, many had the extreme misfortune of experiencing a brain injury during the birthing event. As a result many children experienced various forms of cerebral palsy, most of which caused varying degrees of structural and/or developmental deformities. In addition, essentially all experienced difficulties in ambulatory mobility as well as dexterity of upper extremity function.
Many were so afflicted that ambulation was never a possibility—confinement to a wheel chair or bed was mandatory. In addition, IQ was often compromised.
There were/are many other hereditary and or congenital deformities which inflicted extreme disability on children—some were never correctable even by the most expert medical attention.
One of the most dreaded and dreadful affliction was poliomyelitis. That viral infection of the spinal chord inflicted varying degrees of permanent disability. The degree and the level of involvement of the spinal cord determined the degree of residual deformity and disability. Usually, the higher up the chord, the greater the residual involvement and deformity.bulbar polio (involvement of brain stem) usual meant total body involvement from neck down—death was not an unusual outcome.
When I entered the Campbell Clinic in Memphis to begin my orthopedic specialty training in 1962, fully fifty percent of our patient load was for the treatment of residual deformities from cerebral palsy, birth defects , and polio. Even though polio vaccine became available in 1957, the world was full of afflicted individuals who were severely incapacitated. We spent most of out time and energy doing surgical procedures designed to make them ambulatory and self-sufficient.
The Campbell Clinic managed two major hospitals for the afflicted. The Hospital For Crippled Children was funded by the Firestone Corporation. The Hospital For Crippled Adults was funded by the Rotary Clubs of West KY, West TN, North MS, and East AR.
No one could explain the startling pang of horror I experienced at the sight of a beautiful sixteen year old girl who came walking into my clinic wearing a man’s #12 shoe on her left foot with the toe pointing backwards—she was the victim of an untreated club foot. Her forefoot was pointing backward. The treatment plan was to cut a rather sizeable bone wedge out of the middle of her foot so her forefoot could be swung around and fixed in a foreword pointing direction.
It makes my throat swell with joyful emotion even now as I remember the excitement and joy in those big beautiful eyes of hers when she saw her foot straight for the first time ever as I removed her cast—there’s nothing like knowing you have made a major difference in someone’s life.
One cannot imagine the thrill of witnessing a thirteen year old girl, who had been hospitalized for years and had undergone countless operations, take her first steps ever—she cried with excitement—the entire staff cried with joy—I’m crying now at age 86 from that memory—I was 30 then.
So afflictions come in all sorts and ‘shades of gray’—not all afflictions are physical. Likely, the most terrible afflictions are mental (emotional). Almost everyone can deal with their physical affliction—many, many, many cannot possibly cope emotionally.
For the most part, physical afflictions, are/have been a part of a person’s life all their life—they see other people doing things they can’t do but because they, themselves, have never done those things, they really can’t fully relate. They truly don’t know what they’re missing.
Emotional affliction is a different story. The enemy is inside them but they cant find it. They know it’s there—it’s going to attack any minute, but how and from where? The anxiety thus created is/can be exhausting—frequently, it reaches the stage of ‘total exhaustion’ (extreme depression)—I can’t run any longer—I give up—find me a gun—I’ve got to escape.
We all know of and/or have seen that scenario play out—without doubt it is the worst affliction imaginable. What causes it?
Without wincing or doubt, my assertion is that the greatest affliction ever to befall the human race is organized religion. In a nut shell, organized religion does two dreadful things—it demonizes each individual, and it pits each against the other. Those two factors create an atmosphere of guilt and/or hostility, both of which severely affect the subconscious of our developing psyches—the deformities thus created are curable but there are few ‘psychic surgeons’.
It is very likely that each of you reading this right now profess some religious affiliation. If I were to look you squarely in the face and ask you if you thought your neighbor’s religion was as good as yours, if you were truthful, you would say ‘not only no, but hell no’. Yet, in the same breath you would declare that you love, admire and respect him/her.
Now, I ask you to go look in the mirror—look yourself squarely in the face and answer that question, and then ask yourself ‘why is my religion better?’ I would suggest the usual answer would be that you were ‘raised a Catholic, a Methodist, a Baptist etc. In other words, each of us has been brainwashed from the time we were little kids on with that kind of thinking—Joe is OK but he goes to the Baptist Church; we’re Methodists. It goes without saying that If one Church were as ‘good as the next’, there’d be only one church.
So why have we been afflicted with over 33,000 so-called Christian churches alone?—to say nothing of the thousands of other religions in the world. Have you ever seriously considered that question. Do you ever wonder why the world is in constant turmoil, and always has been? Well, I have and do constantly.
I use the word ‘so-called Christian’ because, even though Jesus is the teacher about ‘the Christ’, he teaches from a ‘different book’ in each different religion. Therefore, both Jesus and The Christ are different people and/or ideas in each church. Ask yourself one simple question; can there possibly be more than one ‘truth’ about the same thing?—can 2+2 possibly be 6?—not in my world. So here we have 30,000+ attempting to make 2+2 something other than 4.
There is only one valid reason for the perpetual turmoil. Everyone has a different God. Everyone proclaims their God to be the creator and controller of everything. So what happens next—we have god-wars. My god is better than yours and so on—so we fight incessantly.
In the so-called Christian community, we are constantly attempting to ‘steal in broad daylight’ other denomination’s constituents. Why do you think that is? Can you be honest with yourself for one second? I’ll tell you why—Power, Money, Control.
My plea is for unanimity of understanding about the essence of God. Plain and simple—God is a Perfect Rational Being. When the money-grubbers disappear, we can have like-mindedness—we all can make 2+2=4—we can have peace.
My plea is for The World-wide Communion of Spirituality—that is for each and every person in existence to recognize and accept that the Spirit (will ) of God is imprinted onto each and every particle OF ENERGY WHICH MAKES UP ALL OF CREATION, including, of course, each of us. Therefore, we are all God’s children—we are God—God cannot possibly hate or dislike himself. We desperately need to rid ourselves of the terrible affliction of Organized Religion and put on the ‘cloak of Spirituality’. Then, and only then, will the true Christ (light of the world) within us shine. Then and only then will true Peace prevail—the Peace of Christ.
I have written extensively on these subjects. My two books, Wilderness Cry and Peace in Spirituality spell it out in completeness.