Have you ever met a skilled doctor that would give you the highest-quality treatment available when you need it most, regardless of your ability to pay for it? The word “Hippocratic” describes the qualities of an ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates (hip-pock-ra-tees), who was the embodiment of an ideal physician: very knowledgeable and when needed applied his vast skill and art to anyone regardless of cost or reward. He was the kind of smart and caring doctor that you would really love to have care for you or your family during times of medical crisis. Hippocrates formed the first independent medical school in the world, was called the Father of Medicine and is known for separating the field of medicine from the other fields of science of that time (460 BC).
The word “Hippocratic” is not to be confused with the word “hypocritical” which is based on the Greek word, “Hypocrite” that describes the attributes of an actor who skillfully uses deceit to fraudulently convince others of high intentions while only really seeking self-benefit. Many of us have met a hypocritical person once or twice in our lives. Essentially, the words Hippocratic and hypocritical are opposites, yet it might be easy to confuse the two. To find a good example of either of these words we need to search no further than the bathroom mirror. Think of a time when you have used your skills to benefit someone with no thought of reward, and then think of another time when you used deceit to gain a reward or benefit for yourself.
Both of these attributes seem to be opposing parts of our human nature. If we are fortunate, there will be caring people in our lives that will help us see the truth about our own hypocritical nature. In the novel “A Christmas Carol”, by Charles Dickens, the Spirit of Christmas Past took the old miserly Scrooge back in time to a joyous Christmas party of his youth that was hosted by his beloved former employer, Mr. Fezziwig; a cheerful loving man who was close to Scrooge’s young heart. The Spirit criticized Fezziwig, saying he was a fool to have spent a fortune on such a party. Scrooge emphatically retorted, “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy …; to make our service light …”
Soon as he said this, Scrooge could not escape the memory of his own actions earlier that day when he mercilessly heaped miserable oppression on his own loyal employee for the sake of a few pennies. When he truly realized the consequences and self-deceit of his hypocritical nature. When he realized he could use his assets to change the future for the good, his heart became liberated. He exclaimed with glee, “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!” and Scrooge from that point on he used the full set of his skills and resources for the benefit of others.
This indescribable joy of heart is the inescapable reward for those who find within themselves their own Hippocratic nature and develop it to its full extent. There will be a time in everyone’s life when the realization comes that all the treasures, skills, abilities and resources that we have accumulated throughout our whole lifetime will only truly have value when spent for the enrichment of those around us. May we find the occasion to share the music within us for all to enjoy while we still have a voice. May the warmth of embracing all that is good and right fill our hearts both day and night, and light our way the whole year long until the full value of the new year is spent.
Wishing the best for all of you in this new year!