Lewis Thomas’s autobiography, The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine Watcher (Viking, 1983), illustrates the danger of knowledge without action, apathy, failing to do something.
In the late 1930s, Lewis Thomas was working as a junior resident at a hospital in Boston when a medical case, unique to the this hospital, caught his attention. Complaining of chills and fever, the patient’s blood samples revealed malaria, which was so unexpected in Boston that several of the staff took samples for further study.
Many physicians and interns were curious to see the case for themselves, seeking to broaden their understanding and awareness of the disease. Tragically, like rubberneckers driving past an accident on the freeway, no stopped to help the patient. The young musician continued to decline as the infected blood cells led to a coma and that evening, death.
The house physician excused himself and returned to the group who were still standing around the bed. He opened a medical textbook and read a chapter on malaria, “Any doctor who allows a case of malaria to die without quinine is guilty of malpractice.”
While malaria was a distant memory in Boston, the treatment of the desease was standard operating procedure. Everyone around that hospital bed had access to the cure for malaria, but no one did anything about it. No one applied the common knowldge that was available for this common malady. Like a can full of paint, the value of knowledge only comes when it is “applied.”
Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24 (ESV)