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Viewpoint from Dr Patrick Blossfeldt

Dr Patrick Blossfeldt
Palliative care
James Paget Hospital

Why care?

It is amazing how many people care for others in need; with direct one-to-one care or giving their tiviewpoints cross logo jpegme, dedication and money to support charitable projects for the benefit of others, for example the palliative care appeal with which I am involved. Why do they do this? The cynic would say, there is no true altruism, people do it because it makes them feel better about themselves. That is certainly true just as the philosopher RW Emerson expressed it: ”It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” But is there anything other than mutual benefit that causes someone to care?
I have always been fascinated by the story of the Good Samaritan; a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and on the way fell among robbers who mugged him, beat him, and left him dying. Two men came along, both Jewish religious professionals who saw him, couldn’t care less and passed by. Finally a Samaritan came along, saw him, patched him up and took him to an inn where he paid the innkeeper to provide further care. Why on earth did he do that?
A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan and then asked the kids: if you saw a person lying by the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do? After a while of silence a little girl piped up: “Miss, I think I’d throw up.”
Maybe the Samaritan also threw up first and we wouldDove rightn’t blame him but he saw something in this half-dead, messy human bundle that touched him deeply and ignited his compassion and desire to care. He saw someone of great value, someone precious, worthy to be cared for. The value we see in a person lies at the heart of a deep motivation to care.
The Bible says that God created man in His own image and Christians believe that His image is reflected in every human being and gives us value, worthiness and dignity. All of us, no one excluded however messy.
Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate what it means to be a neighbour to someone. He was talking to a Jewish law teacher about what the Bible said that God wants from us: - Love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself.
For a Christian there is another layer in the motivation to care. It is trying to see in those for whom we care the image and the presence of the suffering Christ who said to us: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”