Sunday, February 26, 2006

Helping Myself as Much as Possible

So her name was Nicole. She was one of the most closed and enigmatic people I have ever met, and she was on my staff. I had "inherited" her, as opposed to hiring her myself. Actually, she was intelligent and articulate, so I probably would have hired her myself if given the chance.

Nicole was a born-again Christian. She was quite vocal about her religious beliefs, even to the point of making her co-workers uncomfortable at times. I wouldn't necessarily call it prostyletizing, but it was pretty close. Nicole had been spoken to by the head honchos more than a few times about this tendency, but since she had been under me, there had been no issues regarding religious beliefs. Until one Friday, of all days.

That morning she came into my office and announced brusquely, "I can no longer work on the cochlear implant study."

I had inherited this particular study along with her as my primary liason.

"Why Nicole?" I asked. "Is there some area of it that is giving you difficulty? Let's see what we can do to get you some help."

"No," she said. "I don't want to be on it any longer because it is against my religious beliefs."

Now this was completely uncharted territory for me. I knew I had to tread carefully, as I did not want to possibly say the wrong thing or offend her.

"What part of it is against your beliefs, Nicole?"

She had been standing over me since coming in to my office, and she suddenly plopped down on the nearest chair. Her entire upper body leaned to me as she explained.

"Well, you see, Gina, it's like this. I think that cochlear implants themselves go against God's plan. God made that person deaf, that was His plan for them. Cochlear implants interfere with the natural order, and I feel wrong doing this study."

I was, to put it mildly, floored.

There was no question in my mind that I would remove her from the study at that point. A healthy skepticism can be fine in research, but to flatly believe there is a facet of the study that goes against your world beliefs can easily taint the results. At least, in the kind of research I specialized in, which is survey research. And of course, the fact that it was against her religious beliefs.

So, I found her work on another project, and she felt better, my superiors felt better. Everyone except me.

I found myself questioning things in a manner I never had before. I took her reasoning and just kept extending it. I couldn't help it. To this day, that type of reasoning vexes me in a way that I cannot coherently explain.

Did it mean that someone who was nearsighted shouldn't wear glasses because God intended them to live their lives with poor vision?

Did it mean that if you were in a serious car accident that you should refuse to go to the hospital because God intended you to be hurt and any medical help interfered with that?

Did it mean that a baby born with a cleft palate should have to live their entire lives with it, since apparently God wanted it that way?

Should we not develop vaccines or antibiotics because you can't get any more "natural" than bacteria?

Does this belief only apply to medial intervention, or does it pertain to any aspect of a person who was trying to change something fairly fundamental about themselves?

At what point does it stop being "help" or "improvement" and start infringing upon God's larger plan for the universe?

I, for one, am of the persuasion that God helps those who help themselves.


chichimama said...

I was just thinking about this as I sat in church this morning wondering how in fact I had ended up sitting in church every Sunday even though I never really believed in God...

I too am of the opinion that God would be happy if a deaf person can hear, or a blind person caould see.

Anvilcloud said...

A woman that I called aunt had a malformed wrist. She had broken it and waited upon the Lord to heal her. He didn't. My dad thought it quite silly; I wish I could remember exactly what he said. After he stopped going to church, a deacon came round to talk to him. Dad used his hearing as an excuse. Deacon thought he should pray for healing. Dad observed that some people still wore glasses. The deacon wore glasses.

You cannot understand this woman; I doubt that she understands her own beliefs enitrely. I'm also pretty sure that her beliefs are inconsistent, and I trust that she has grown a little since then.

Awesome Mom said...

My take on this whole thing is that God gave the knowledge to us to perform miracles of our own.

Heather said...

I don't think it's God's intended order that things should stay broken. He gave us brains and giftedness to change some of those things that are broken. Would this same woman say that we should ignore the millions of people dying of HIV/AIDS? I can't imagine a compassionate God wanting that.

On the other hand, sometimes we also have to accept things that are broken and won't (at least in our lifetime) be "fixed".

Shopping Diva said...

People who pick and choose things like that to be against their religion annoy the heck out of me!

If God truly meant for people to live with their afflictions, then why did he allow Jesus to heal the sick and the blind?

One of my favorite hobbies is to stump Bible-Thumpers!

Piece of Work said...

Well, I guess God intended Nicole to be stupid, then.

Oops, just kidding. But that kind of think just annoys the hell out of me. Completely illogical!!

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Deb said...

I'm a little late with this, but I, too, am bothered by this kind of logic. I am just finishing up chemo for ovarian cancer. Would Nicole say that I should have skipped surgery and chemo because God wanted me to have (and die from) ovarian cancer? I wonder how Nicole would feel if she had cancer. Or if she went deaf. Or if she had a child who was born deaf.