Indra’s blog: About Mind and Heart matters.
Today’s blog is a bit of a moral one. Often thoughts now get shared to the social media platforms and everbody and all can and will have their say. Sometimes I shy away from it, sometimes I feel the urge to reply.
I shared a thought provoking Facebook post from StanceGrounded @_SJPeace_ saying:
The holocaust was legal. Slavery was legal. Segregation was legal.
People who hid Jews in their home were criminalized. People who freed slaves were criminalized. People who stood up for equality and justice were criminalized.
Legality is not a guide for morality!
One of my friends’ response was:
That is a very astute observation. Our moral compass is constantly changing though which leads me to believe that there may be no such thing as right and wrong, only what is legal and illegal.
My thoughts were:
I think what should guide you is, what I am saying or doing to this person would I want that said or done to me? If the answer is Yes, then you are probably on the right way…
He followed that with a quote of Will Durant:
There is no significant example in history, before our time of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.
Not sure where that last part was going to, but for the rest… Isn’t it hard when you think about it? What once was considered law and good, was years later considered a big NO. What is right and what is wrong? How to decide which way to choose? If you feel something is morally wrong, but is legal, and not obeying it makes that you are doing something illegal, should you then blindly follow? As a young teenager we were shown a movie in school that showed how people’s minds were influenced on pretty big moral dilemmas and how ‘nice’ people started believing in and executing behaviours towards others that they would not have dreamed on doing a few months before. The film had a huge impact on us youngsters and made us understand how people turned against their neighbours. Like a warning to make you aware that it can happen, but above all that I feel that what I said before really goes above all: If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to another.
Now I almost hear you think… what has this got to do with dentistry? Well, we sometimes face moral dilemmas as well. Never so big as the above, but big for the patients we treat. For instance, a patient that is not happy with their teeth or is in pain and says ‘just take them all out and give me a denture’. Unfortunately, it does happen that this is the only option left and I will grant the patients wish. However, more often than not, teeth can be happily saved and restored to a functional and aesthetic dentition. If it is worth to keep it, I feel you should, especially if the other option changes the quality of life significantly for the worst. As a dentist, we understand how extremely hard it is to get used to a denture, especially when the bone starts to resorb/go away. It is our duty to explain and make our patients understand.
And sometimes we find a road in the middle and sometimes both views are so far apart that it is difficult to come to something that sits well with both. However, I always lead by the thing that was taught to me in university: If this was your mum, what would you do? What would you say and what would you wish for her?
And that is still how I like to treat my patients and the people around me.
Usually every situation has multiple solutions.
We try to explain them all and explain them well, so the patient can make an informed decision, as you would do if it was your own mother. Of course, finances are involved as well, but the best interest of our patient is at the forefront of all we do and we work within the limitations that come in front of us. Luckily for me these dilemmas are never on the edge of legality though.
Think about you and the people you love. This decisions that you are making, whether big or small, what would you do if the other person would be you or your loved one….. Mind and heart need to come together people…. Mind and Heart!… and I can only hope legality will be on our side at all times.
PS: The movie I talked about above is called “The Wave’ and was first filmed in 1981 and directed by Alexander Grasshoff, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Programme. It has since been redone and came out as a more dramatised version in 2008. It is based on a real-life project in an American school in 1967. If you have not seen it, whichever version, I would really urge you to watch it and surely show it to your children. I saw the first version when I must have been around 13 and a second time around the age of 15/16. It was part of our history education lessons and has impacted me throughout life in a positive way.