Sacred Art of Healing


by Dr. Ehtesham Khan
28th Jan, 2024 | 3 min read

I asked my students to tell me when they think civilization started. Typically, I don't anticipate responses from first-year medical students, as this stage is rife with doubt and uncertainty. However, this batch surprised me. Many ventured common yet correct answers-discovery of fire, advent of agriculture, or when humans learned to walk. One even suggested it was when language was acquired. It was intriguing to hear these intellectual responses from first-year students.

In response, I shared a perspective from anthropologist Margaret Mead, who, when asked about the first sign of civilization in a culture, pointed to a healed femur (thigh bone). Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, a broken leg leads to death; survival is nearly impossible. A healed femur signifies someone took the time to aid the injured, bind the wound, transport the person to safety, and provide care throughout recovery.

The room fell into pin-drop silence, indicating that my statement had resonated with the students. I allowed the silence to linger, hoping they had become consciously aware of the sacredness of their mission in the field of medicine.

Perhaps, in that quiet space, some of them saw their calling not just as healers of bodies, but as menders of the human spirit, as guardians of that spark of civilization - the spark that chooses care over abandon, that binds wounds instead of inflicting them.I felt a flicker of hope. Hope that these students, carrying the weight of that silence, would become not just doctors, but custodians of the spark that makes us human.

Dr. E.S. Khan

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