A senior colleague told me a story about a guy that used to work with his Dad in the 80s. This guy was a junior subordinate of my colleague’s Dad; they worked for a Government establishment. The guy belonged to a religious organization that did (or does, not sure) not believe in the use of any medical intervention; “everything has to be natural”, they used to say.
The working relationship between the guy and my colleague’s Dad was cordial and respectful. They discussed spiritual beliefs and respected each other’s opinions. Then tragedy struck one fateful afternoon. The guy had a snake bite; it was a cobra; poisonous and its venom kills quickly.
Within minutes of the incident, the effect of the bite was already being felt as the guy grew weaker by the second. The people around rushed to his aid, tied the leg so that the venom would not spread so fast while they requested for medical assistance.
As the big boss, the attention of my colleague’s Dad was requested. He left what he was doing to go and attend to this situation. As he hurried to the location of the incident, his mind became worried due to all the spiritual conversations he had with the snake bite victim and the fact that the guy has always refused medical aid. “There is going to be serious wahala (trouble) today”, he said to himself as he approached the scene of the incident.
For perspective sake, the team was working in a remote place on a rail track project. The terrain was tropical and susceptible to snake attacks. Many precautions had been put in place to prevent such occurrence but that particular day was an exception. The location had medical facilities equipped for treatment of poisonous snake bites and there were medical practitioners on stand-by.
According to my colleague, the Dad got to the scene of the incident which at that point had become chaotic. On the floor was his injured associate, lying on back, looking weak as the venom troubled his internal system; he was still conscious and could utter reasonable sentences. The Doctors and other colleagues informed my colleague’s Dad that the guy had refused any medical attention as it was against his spiritual belief. “Oh God, I can’t lose this guy today, Lord. This guy cannot die on my watch!!!”, he muttered silently.
My colleague’s Dad then asked everyone to step back a bit and give him some space to enable him to speak with his injured associate. The Dad knelt down and spoke; “John, I know we have had this conversation many times. We have both spoken about our spiritual beliefs and I have been respectful of your views.
The situation we are in is not a drill; it’s not a spiritual discussion where friends discuss theology. This is the real deal. If you don’t allow these Doctors to help you, we will lose you. I also believe in God, but he is not coming down at this moment to save you; he has sent the Doctors to do that. Please, consider your wife and kids and those of us that care very well about you. I know you love life; please don’t die. Please!!!”.
John told my colleague’s Dad that he appreciated the time they had spent together but reaffirmed that their discussions on spiritual matters were not mere talks; he was willing to die for his beliefs. He said that if at that point of death, he went against his belief, life would make no meaning again; “I am not sure of the version of me that will emerge”, he said. He went on to explain that if God had allowed him to die like that, God will take care of his wife and kids.
That was how the matter ended. The guy died few minutes after. My colleague told me that for many years after the incident, his Dad was full of regrets. Could he have forced the guy to receive medical attention against his will and belief? Supposing by so doing they created a monster out of him, would the extra years alive have justified their actions? How can a mere belief make a human sentence himself or herself to untimely death? My colleague’s Dad has passed on now but till his death, I was told he still remembered that day very vividly.
The issue with spiritual beliefs can sometimes be confusing. Most times, you don’t know where to stand on the issues. Some beliefs are sacred and people are willing to sacrifice their lives for them. Some people believe strongly in after-life that this present life doesn’t mean much to them. Some others are so liberal that they term all these beliefs as foolishness. Be careful where you stand because whenever we finally depart from this life, we will find out the “actual truth”.