Fri | Jul 20, 2018

How to save the world

Published:Monday | March 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Innumerable books, television shows and movies portray various people saving the entire world. From the fictional characters played by Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider to Tom Cruise in War Of The Worlds, there is no shortage of make-belief heroes coming to our rescue.

And, in the sphere of reality, many will agree that the combined efforts of the allies against Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and imperial Japan, led by the United Kingdom (under Winston Churchill), the United States of America (under Franklin D. Roosevelt) and the Soviet Union (under Joseph Stalin) saved the world from a dismal future under the rule of megalomaniac despots.

Not so long ago, as I stood and helplessly watched the dying body of one of my very favourite 90-year-old patients, I wondered what it really means to save the world. I know that there is a growing number of people who ridicule and admonish those of us who believe that we have a soul. The naysayers assert that all that there is exists because of mere happenstance. They believe that everything that has occurred, is occurring, and will occur is all random and has no deeper meaning or significance.




They believe that we are only our physical bodies and that our bodies are what they are only because of the random collision of atoms, the random combining of molecules and the random assorting of biological forms culminating in a human body. They think that the body is all that we are and that even our thoughts are basically random electrical impulses that fire in response to external, environmental and situational stimuli in such a way that they produce 'intelligence'.

They believe that when our bodies betray us and die there is absolutely nothing afterwards. They are convinced that there is only inky blackness and total silence, an unending void of nothingness to look forward to. They leave me therefore to ask myself, what would be the purpose of anything? Why are we going through all that we go through if we will cease to exist and it will all be for absolutely nothing? And, furthermore, whoever shares our experiences or benefits from our existence will likewise pass away into nothingness. What would be the use of anything if everything is only atoms and molecules, transient physical states that eventually decay into energy? Well, I believe that we are more than just temporary physical matter.

As I stood looking at my dying patient and remembered all the good that he did for so many others, I recalled how that decent man assisted the needy and brought up his children and loved his wife (who preceded him in death). My mortal eyes could only watch the waning embers of life and I knew that his soul would soon be free, free from the earthly bonds, free to return to our Heavenly Father. Watching him suffer made me wish for his quick release. Whatever he is, whatever he has, whoever he loves rapidly evaporated before my very eyes. I no longer wanted to save his failing body ... it was his time to depart. His soul was about to cross beyond space and time and stand naked before God.




It, therefore, begs the question: Is there anything in this corrupt and corruptible world worth saving? How can someone save the world? Sure, we can save bodies, but that's only temporary. Perhaps we should start thinking on how to save eternal souls.

Religion represents an attempt at organised and sometimes regimented worship. When He walked among us, Jesus the Christ transcended mere religion. He made enemies of his fellow Jews because he dismissed the irrelevant and redundant mundane minutiae.

Spiritually, He sacrificed and interceded; He made Himself the bridge between mortal mankind and God. On a cerebral level, He tried to teach us that we are indeed one from the one God. The simple solution is to remember and acknowledge our Creator and to treat one another as we would want to be treated. This is how the world is saved ... by saving souls.

• Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice.

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