Health lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  

 

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is  remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country if not the world on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year.

The  United States observes the third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor and memory of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929)

 Health effects of violence

Dr. King’s life reminds us of the  tragic effects of interpersonal violence. His life ended suddenly and prematurely when, on April 4, 1968, an assailant shot him as he stood on a hotel balcony. He had delivered his last speech just the day before. The shooter was apprehended, and after confessing to the murder, sentenced to life in prison where he died.

Most people know of Dr. King’s assassination, but don’t know his mother, Alberta Williams King, also died violently. At age 69, sitting at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mrs. King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974. Her  23-year-old assailant received a life sentence and died in prison.

Violence between persons creates social, economic and political problems, and serious medical consequences. It is a leading cause of death, especially in children, adolescents and young adults.

Non-fatal injuries often cause severe and permanent disability that changes lives, burdens families and increases medical costs astronomically. These include

  • TBI, traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries leading to paraplegia, quadriplegia, ventilator dependence
  • Amputations of limbs
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; other forms of anxiety; depression
  • Chronic pain, often leading to opiate dependence

Here is a previous post  about  why and how we need to address violence in our society .

Why we need to end violence and how to stop it

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.

Dr. King

Effects of health disparities

This observance also reminds us of the problem of health disparity. Health disparities are

preventable differences in illness, injury, violence, or access to health care that happen to  socially disadvantaged populations.

These populations can be defined by factors such as

  • race or ethnicity,
  • gender,
  • education or income,
  • disability,
  • geographic location (e.g., rural or urban),
  • sexual orientation.

Health disparities are directly related to the past and present  unequal distribution of social, political, economic, and environmental resources.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  Dr. King’s father, Martin Sr. ,died of a heart attack. His widow, Coretta Scott King, died of ovarian cancer.

Learn Why 7 Deadly Diseases Strike Blacks Most  from WebMD

You can learn more about Dr. King and listen to part of his famous speech at

Biography.com

"I have a dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Plaque honoring “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King , in Washington D.C. looking toward the Washington Monument

You can read the full text of the speech at

I Have A Dream….

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies,

education and culture for their minds,

and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.

Dr. King

The following book suggestions lead to affiliate links which may pay a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me fund this blog.

a biography about Dr. King written for children

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am Martin Luther King book
Martin Luther King Jr.

sharing the dream of HEALTH equality

Thank you for joining me to remember the late Dr. King.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

What happens when we stop to help-being a good Samaritan

“Who is your neighbor?”

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question.

The Parable (Story)  of the Good Samaritan

 Luke chapter 10, NIV

 Jesus said: 

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

sketch of a man helping a wounded man lying on the ground-the good Samaritan
from Lightstock.com, stock photos, video, and graphics, affiliate site

 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.

Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.

‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Jesus asked them ,

 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

 The expert in the law replied,

“The one who had mercy on him.

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In a sermon about the good Samaritan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’

But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question:

‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

“What will happen if we don’t stop to help?”

Other books by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are at this affiliate link.

Samaritan’s Purse stops to help people all over the world.

COURTESY OF SAMARITAN’S PURSE

Learn more about the work of Samaritan’s Purse and consider what you might do to help support its work.

The Hunger Site Special Offers On Fair Trade Products Just For You! Help Cure Hunger!

Thanks for visiting and exploring the HEART of health with me through words of faith, hope, and love and helping me share the HEART of health. Please share this post with your friends.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                        Dr. Aletha  

WATERCRESSWORDS.COM-exploring the HEART of health

cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

Some photos in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

Remembering Dr. King’s dream

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country on the anniversary of his birth each year.

Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.

Isaiah 40:4-5, NIV

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted this scripture passage in his famous speech at the “March on Washington” in 1963.

 

“even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. “

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the third Monday of January every year , the United States observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as an official federal holiday.

"I have a dream"
Plaque honoring “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King

Read the full text of  “I Have A Dream” .

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is  remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country on the anniversary of his birth each year.

graphic by LIGHTSTOCK.COM , an affiliate site for media

books by and about Dr. King

The following book suggestions lead to affiliate links which may pay a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you.

I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World) I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, Special 75th Anniversary Edition (Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929) I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, Special 75th Anniversary Edition (Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929)

exploring the HEART of human rights

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

FAITH, HOPE, LOVE in wooden block letters
Faith Hope and Love

“Tis the season to…

Do we celebrate more special events and holidays the last six weeks of the year than the rest of the year combined? It feels that way to me.

Do we celebrate more special events and holidays the last six weeks of the year than the rest of the year combined? It feels that way to me.  We have the three major holidays-

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve have become mini holidays too.

And the shopping days are “holidays” now- Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday

Even more important than shopping is giving-Giving Tuesday.

beautiful large Christmas tree
Christmas at the Chicago Museum of  Science and Industry

Some observe the special celebrations of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

In the United States, we observe December 7 as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the day in 1941 the United States entered World War II.  That event changed our country forever, and created my generation, the post-war  Baby Boomers.

The USS Arizona Memorial
Pearl Harbor Memorial to the USS Arizona

On December 17 , 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made their  famous flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, ushering in the age of air travel, another historical turning point.

The shortest day of the year occurs on December 21, the winter solstice and first day of winter in the northern hemisphere.

light snow on trees and ground

And I suspect there are other special holidays and events observed too.

Besides holidays, other matters demand our time and attention during this season also.

College students face the end of a semester by studying for finals and finishing term papers and projects.

Renewal notices for subscriptions, licenses, and memberships show up in our mailboxes or inboxes.

Charities offer us one final opportunity to make  tax-deductible donations.

Patients call their doctor’s, dentist’s or optometrist’s office for that last chance to use medical insurance before the new (and probably higher) deductible kicks in or use medical spending accounts.

red gift boxes
Christmas birthdays can be messy too.

And in the middle of all this, I celebrate my birthday.

Having a  birthday close to Christmas makes both occasions rather messy for you and your family. As my friend ,whose birthday is on New Year’s Day, wrote, “You feel like you get cheated on your Christmas/birthday gifts.”  But  there are perks.

Your neighbors remind you your birthday is coming by hanging lights on their houses and turning them on every evening. (My husband claims that’s not the real reason. He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus either.)

You can go to a holiday party and pretend it’s for you.

You can listen to Christmas music on your birthday without seeming weird.

Your husband may hire a limousine to drive you around town looking at holiday lights displays. (No joke.)

boy and woman with birthday cakes
Celebrating a long ago birthday with my son. I don’t know why I had two birthday cakes.

Thank goodness, so far, no one else in my immediate family has chosen to be born or married this month. (Although I was delighted to learn  recently that two  distant cousins also have December birthdays.)

But the best part of any birthday, no matter when you observe it, is reflecting on your life, both the successes and failures, the joys and sorrows, and remembering and reflecting on the people and events that brought you to where you are now.

Birth and death comprise this journey  we call life. Long ago I recognized that we physicians do not ultimately “save lives” or “prevent death”, but we can sometimes impact the time and circumstances.

A Bible book,  Ecclesiastes chapter 3 addresses the extremes of life in this passage which is often read at funerals or memorials-

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate;a time for war, and a time for peace.

This year I have  celebrated with friends who welcomed new babies into their families. I watched a friend face a disabling illness and death with the same faith, courage, enthusiasm, dignity and humor that he had lived life. I have mourned with his family and others who have lost loved ones this year.

Some people dread birthdays, but I believe  they are  a blessing; I am grateful for another year of life and hope to use whatever time I have left productively.  I agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes, who is quoted as saying,

“To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.” (quote found at Growing Bolder)

Buzz Aldrin, one of the Apollo 11 astronauts and second human to step on the moon’s surface , trekked to the South Pole, healthy and active- at 86 years old. (Unfortunately, he had to be evacuated emergently due to developing high altitude sickness.)

A woman made the news recently by celebrating  her 103rd birthday. As was her routine, she spent the day  at a senior citizen center- as a volunteer!

Next month, January 15, our country observes the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I doubt my birthday will ever be named a holiday, but I hope something I do in life will leave this world a little better.

A birthday creates a new beginning  and so does a new year.  Perhaps we can all use the New Year’s Day holiday  to remember, reflect, renew and recharge our hearts and minds for another season  of life.

find hidden opportunities hidden in each new day

Yes, ’tis the season-Merry Christmas, Happy New Year-

and happy birthday, whenever yours may be.

dessert with a lit candle in the middle
I hope your favorite restaurant gives you a complimentary dessert on your birthday.

sharing the HEART of holidays

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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And the good Samaritan is…

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question,

“Who is my neighbor?”

The term “good Samaritan” means a person who goes out of their way to help someone, especially a stranger, often at  personal sacrifice.

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question,

“Who is my neighbor?”

The term “good Samaritan” means a person who goes out of their way to help someone, especially a stranger, often at  personal sacrifice.

 

 

 

Samaritan’s Purse doctor treating a victim of the Nepal earthquake via Images of Disaster From Nepal.

 

 

The Parable (Story)  of the Good Samaritan

 Luke chapter 10, NIV

 Jesus said: 

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.

Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.

‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

 

Jesus asked them ,

 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

I think the parable also answers the question “Who  gives health care?”

The story doesn’t mention doctors, nurses, or other  medical professionals  but many health care facilities and charitable organizations use the name “good Samaritan” .

 

Health care includes a variety of acts that contribute to health and well being such as

  • donate food to a local food bank
  • deliver meals to housebound persons
  • coach sports teams
  • donate clothes, blankets and toiletries to a homeless shelter
  • take an animal to visit residents of a nursing home
  • help with clean up after a natural disaster
  • learning and using CPR
  • teaching a child to ride a bicycle or swim
  • helping a special needs child ride a horse
  • taking soup to a sick friend
  • driving a disabled person to a medical appointment

 

In a sermon about the good Samaritan,

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

 

Health care, whether done by professionals or laypersons, asks the same question-

“What will happen if I don’t stop to help?”

Learn more about the work of Samaritan’s Purse and consider what you might do to help support its work.

 

 

 

Thanks for visiting and exploring the HEART of health with me through words of faith, hope, and love and join me in sharing the HEART of health.

                        Dr. Aletha  

Sunday Words- the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25

Samaritan’s Purse doctor treating a victim of the Nepal earthquake

via Images of Disaster From Nepal.

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor? “ The term “good Samaritan” means a person who goes out of their way to help someone, especially a stranger, often at  personal sacrifice .

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

It also answers the question “Who  gives health care?”  Though no medical professionals are in the story, many health care facilities and charitable organizations use the name.  Health care includes the work done by non- healthcare employed people. They

  • donate food to a local food bank
  • deliver meals to homebound persons
  • coach sports teams
  • donate clothes, blankets and toiletries to a homeless shelter
  • take an animal to visit residents of a nursing home
  • help with clean up after a natural disaster

The answer to both questions is 

“The one who showed mercy.”

More information about the work of Samaritan’s Purse