Hospice Patients Alliance: Patient Advocates


Troublemaker — Advocate



Part Two of Two


By Ron Panzer

November 2, 2013



Of course, society is not exclusively culture of death or culture of life. There are some aspects that are wonderful while many other parts of society are corrupt and evil. There are some really wonderful administrators who are just as dedicated as the most caring staff. Working with them is a privilege.

But when they are not dedicated to the mission, we find it hard to believe. We just do not wish to accept that the part of society we work in or live in is really corrupted. We are shaken to the core when we see those we loved and respected go astray or betray the most important aspect of our work.

This is the moment of truth and the moment of radicalization for that employee (or other) who then goes on to realize he is in the fight of his life, for the sake of the patients or other employees, for the sake of the mission, the public or whoever may be at risk. The dedicated healthcare worker or advocate must ask herself, "Is this what is best for the patient?" "Does this represent our best effort on behalf of the mission we serve?"

The employee then must choose how to respond to the absolute refusal to act (and remedy the problematic situation) by those in authority. There is no doubt that the administrators have made a choice that is in complete opposition to the spirit of the work, that is not best for the patient or mission and is a terrible mistake. These administrators have consciously chosen to disregard the information and warnings brought before them by the employee.

In the usually-imagined situation, the opposite situation where an employee has harmed a patient or refuses to correct improper behavior, administrators can offer to re-train the employee. Or, if the employee will not change, they can terminate that employee's employment at the agency. When it is the administrators themselves who are choosing to betray the patient's trust and the mission, how difficult it is to correct that problem! That is what patient advocates and whistleblowers are confronted with regularly.

The employee can simply give up and shut up (as most people do), speak to those higher up the chain of command (as a few do), or if he has already done that with no appropriate response, report to authorities and powers outside of the agency (as very, very few do), whether a governmental authority, the media, or others. He can also choose to stay on and fight for the welfare of the patients (a very risky task at this point), or he can resign.

If he reports to others outside, he becomes a whistleblower, dedicated to protect those at risk and prevent any harm from occurring as a result of the administration's policies. Such a whistleblower risks everything for the welfare of others. He knows the truth about the situation, the risk of harm that clearly exists, the refusal to act by those in authority, and that they are therefore acting intentionally.

His eyes are open to the tragic truth about those in authority who he most likely respected greatly beforehand. His nature was to trust — he wants to be able to trust those who have authority, but once betrayed by them so terribly, he sees them for what they are.

He is no longer naive about those he thought would be receptive to the simple truth. He is definitely labeled a troublemaker for challenging the administration, but he is not afraid to speak truth to power if it means the defenseless will be protected. Everything he does is for the welfare of the patient and the mission.

Those with authority will do almost anything to exert their authority over that individual or to get rid of him. If he doesn't have a way of forcing change, they will simply ignore him, isolate him and marginalize his influence. These administrators' main concern is to make sure their agenda and policies continue to move forward and to make sure that the whistleblower (or anyone else) does not interfere with the new direction they have chosen.

Troublemakers seeking to restore order and prevent harm speak truth to that power structure, yet executives, managers and others with authority view any challenge as a threat to their position and as harmful to the work being accomplished, even if their policies are themselves a threat to the original mission. "How dare she question me!" they rage within.

Whether the advocate for the welfare of the patient or mission is still working within the chain of command or has become a whistleblower, he is marked — marked for punishment, harassment, retaliation, slander, and even blackballing within the industry. He is not welcome and co-workers and friends begin to betray him, leaving a wide space between themselves and the troublemaker.

Because he stood up for the patient's rights, or for the mission itself, the troublemaker is treated like a leper even by those once closest to him, who shun him, cut off all communications and leave him to fend for himself alone.

Those of us who have chosen to remain true to the calling we were given and act to protect the patient or mission, even though the administrators acted against this, pay a price.

The story about the army sergeant calling for volunteers to step forward becomes very real to us: Imagine all the soldiers lined up. When the sergeant says, "Who will volunteer for this mission?" "Who will carry this cross?" everyone else takes a step backward, leaving those of us who remain to do the undesirable task. There is a world of difference between asking for better care for a patient when you are a family member or other patient advocate, on the one hand, and fighting your own supervisor (or supervisor's supervisor) for the sake of the patient (on the other hand)!

Nevertheless, we do know that this is what we are called to do, to take up our cross in order to serve (Mark 10:44). This is what we do. We are called to restore the culture of life and, in being able to share in this work, we are blessed (Matthew 19:21).

We know that when harm to the vulnerable is not only caused by those in an individual healthcare agency, corporation or other project, but is being accomplished with the full approval of the local, state and federal government, then a full-blown culture of death exists, whether the people realize it or not. This is how so many suffer needlessly.

This is how stealth euthanasia and healthcare tyranny flourishes. In many cases, there is no physical, higher authority that can protect the innocent. Patient advocacy and whistleblowing can only go so far. If all aspects of the agency administration as well as the government are corrupt, there is no response to the cries of the people.

Over the years, I've listened to hundreds and hundreds of accounts of patients who did not receive proper care and family members who have literally spent years contacting just about every branch of government, trying to get a just response to the medical murder of their loved one, without any results at all. This is why the oppressed people cry out to God for relief.

In a culture of life setting, executives in charge are receptive to those who come to them with information or feedback, however lowly that source of information may be. They are accessible to all, concerned about all and vigilant to maintain the integrity of the mission, just as a wise captain would hear the warning of a lowly cook shouting that there is a reef ahead. He will check to confirm what the cook says about the reef, but the wise captain does not disregard such an important warning.

The good captain never stops thinking about the welfare of his crew and the mission of his ship. Everything he does is aimed at remaining on course so that the ship arrives safely at its destination. The advocate, whatever his position in any undertaking or care setting, possesses this same unwavering, one-pointed dedication to his mission.

Truth is no respecter of persons. Anyone may stumble upon it, however high or low they are positioned in society or the hierarchy of their agency, corporation, government or other project. It is what we do with truth that shows what kind of person we choose to be. Those who choose to deny truth are clearly on a dangerous path. They may retain or acquire worldly power, position or wealth, but they lose the way of life.

Those who see others valiantly standing for truth at risk to themselves and still do nothing, those who shun those who speak truth, also lose the way of life. The troublemaker, in advocating for the needy, sometimes sacrifices much:

Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13

He gives everything so that others live, but some do not hear, do not listen, do not heed the warnings given! They not only reject the message, they reject the messenger. Jesus told us,

"... whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you,
when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet
for a testimony against them ...." (Mark 6:11)

Many think that by looking away, by remaining silent, by busying themselves with their duties on the job and avoiding any controversy, they may protect their own livelihood, job and welfare. Most people don't want to get involved and they don't want any trouble.

They think that everything will somehow be "ok," even though inside they know what the administration is doing is wrong. They may go to church every week and pray daily, but they are like the proverbial ostrich who sticks his head in the sand to avoid seeing trouble. It doesn't work. They have betrayed what they were called to do.

Jesus, however, cautioned us that: "... whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it (Matthew 16:25)." If we are to remain true to Him and the culture of life He wishes to exist, we must choose. When we know what is true and remain silent about it in order to avoid trouble for ourselves, we will pay a price.

Who knows? If enough people stand up for what is true and right, then conditions might change. Those in authority might reverse course and do the right thing if enough people did not betray the truth by remaining silent.

To those in authority, we can ask, "Why not listen to the one who you know cares so much about this mission?" "Why would he or she provide a warning so urgently if it were not important?" "Why would one who normally is very careful about her work, be so adamant about this?" "Do we risk danger or harm to our mission by completely ignoring her?" She is knowledgeable and motivated by deep love; "Why would she be wrong about this?"

When it is unnecessary to cause risk to others, why not follow the Precautionary Principle1 and do what is safe to do? Why open yourselves up to making a terrible blunder? Why not listen? But those in authority who are in rebellion against what is truly right, tragically do not listen to advice at all (Proverbs 10:8).

The Precautionary Principle is relevant to every project undertaken by man, whether in industry, pure research or practical applications around the world. In research, this principle cautions us to avoid doing anything that would cause harm to experimental subjects or the world around. Biological scientists who understand genetics, ecology and biology have warned repeatedly that genetically-engineering and changing the fundamental genetic nature of plants and animals (with the impossibility of knowing all possible results of such experimentation) presents a terrible threat to the ecology and well-being of people, animals as well as plants everywhere.

In other words, given the infinite complexity of Nature and the infinite number of possible interactions between newly genetically-engineered organisms and the world around, eventually something will happen that will cause terrible harm to result. Those who are behind the genetically-engineered organisms have modified the world's basic cereal grains, wheat, corn, and rice. There have already been damaging results from this work.

Once the corporations behind this experimentation (like Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, BASF, and Bayer) control the entire world's grain production, they will be more powerful and wealthier than most nations of the world. The grains grown and consumed all around the world have been patented and therefore profit is made throughout the world.

These executives are not heeding the warnings of the "troublemakers," those scientists who understand much better what is involved in such experimentation on the entire human population and world. The troublemakers seek to protect the world from the eventual terrible harm that will result, possibly, the death of many millions or more.

There have been others throughout history who did not heed the warnings of the wise. Those who did not believe Moses or God said, "Trust us! Let us build a golden calf and worship it!" But Moses came down to the people and asked them, "Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me (Exodus 32:26)" Either we cling to truth and what is right according to the divine and the natural law, or we choose to go along with the culture of death and rebel against God's way.

We cannot mislead others, speak untruth or remain silent about such deception and still remain faithful to Him. We cannot serve two masters, and we cannot be faithful to God while betraying the mission he has called us to accomplish (Matthew 6:24). One of the remarkable lessons to learn from the Old Testament Bible is the detailed attention given to how each and every thing is to be done (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers).

Some may consider all of those instructions listed there to be incredibly tedious and without any meaning, but the attention given to how things are to be done demonstrates that God does care how each and every thing is done. Even though something can be done "your way," there is always His way, a much better and more beautiful way.

Even though things may appear to "work" your way, and you think "Everything's going along fine!" you will never know what could have been had you done things His way. He may have had a wondrous and miraculous blessing in store for you, but you disregarded the warnings given and threw those blessings away.

We cannot support an agenda that brings harm to the vulnerable or betrays a mission while also protecting the vulnerable and that mission. Whatever our situation in life, there is no way to remain neutral when it comes to choosing good or evil (Matthew 6:24). Either we choose the good, and all that follows, or we are choosing evil, even if we pretend that we are not taking sides. Not acting when we are called to do so is to choose evil.

Healthcare professionals who adhere to the ethics of life will constantly find themselves battling the administration for changes that will protect patients and prevent future harm. They warn administrators of risks and suggest methods of improving care.

Yet, because administrators wed to the culture of death care more about increasing revenue or their own position (and complying with mandates from a board of directors or others), they rebuff those dedicated staff who are sincerely seeking to assure that the very best care is provided to the patients!

Such staff often do not understand why administrators are so stubborn and bull-headed when it comes to making simple changes for the better. They can't imagine anyone working in the industry and really not caring at all about the patients we serve, or not understanding the real mission, or even the dangers to the mission. They would like to ask them, "If you really cared, why don't you listen?" But what they do know for sure is that the administrators mostly just don't care.

In a culture of death setting, executives in charge are often completely unreceptive to those who come to them with a complaint or who expose wrongdoing that the management has initiated. Those in authority pick and choose who they will listen to and who they will not listen to, and they assume that whatever their own point of view is, it is correct and not to be questioned.

Employees who tell managers what they want to hear, even though what they say is false, get ahead. Those administrators who are bent on doing wrong listen to liars who flatter them, and liars listen to those who encourage evil (Proverbs 17:4) Culture of death managers do not tolerate anyone questioning their judgment or speaking the truth.

Such managers are examples of the proud man who is resistant to truth, and they are the reason why well-intended projects continually go astray. This is the corrupt way of administering an organization, agency or project. In the culture of death setting, authority over others is such an intoxicating possession, such a coveted power, in very large corporations or governmental settings some men will even harm others or kill to obtain it.

During the time of Jesus, aside from the appointed regional Governor of the province of Judea, the Pharisees possessed great authority and power. They were all professed believers in God, prayed regularly, attended services frequently and were dedicated to the law given to their people through the prophet Moses as they understood these laws.

They assumed that they were the "chosen ones," and that if anyone would be accepted by God, if anyone were righteous among all the people, it would be themselves. Many at that time (who didn't know any better) would have assumed the Pharisees to actually be "the righteous."

When anyone challenged the policies of the Pharisees, they struck back fiercely. When the troublemaker, John the Baptist, accused them, they seethed with indignation.

When the troublemaker, Jesus, also accused them, speaking truth to their power structure and exposing their spiritual bankruptcy, they made sure that He was killed. In the modern corporate environment, whether healthcare or otherwise, those who speak up, be they whistleblowers or patient advocates, are targeted.

It's not easy to be a patient advocate and even more difficult to be a whistleblower. The whistleblower is an advocate who works, or has worked, within a power structure going wrong. He's inside, but those in authority don't listen as he tries to reason to them, eventually becoming so frustrated at their inaction that in order to protect the patient, or the mission, he is forced to become a whistleblower.

The patient advocate could be someone inside the organization or outside. In the culture of death, many of those who should be advocates for the patient can sometimes actually be his enemy, scheming how to hasten his death one way or another, because he's too old, using too many healthcare resources (visiting the acute care hospital too many times is top of the list), too disabled, or suffering so much that he's determined to be "better off dead."

Patient advocates who work inside and are seen as troublemakers are also rebuffed by those in authority and are regularly harassed, retaliated against or terminated from employment.2

Those who speak up and challenge those in authority really do find themselves quickly isolated and alone. Friends who spoke out freely in private suddenly disappear, shrinking into the shadows of obscurity so that the advocate (or whistleblower) stands all alone against the power structure.

The advocate is surprised in many cases, knowing that so many agreed with him, but quickly learns that most people are cowards when it comes to actually risking their job, finances or more. They will not stand against injustice in order to prevent harm to others or to protect the mission of the work.

They do not wish to be associated with such a troublemaker for fear that reprisals will also be taken against themselves, and they choose not to risk anything for the truth. They do abandon their former friend and merge into the action-less, speechless, frightened and nameless majority.

Though he is isolated and alone, if he is truly acting for the sake of the vulnerable without any selfish motive, the Spirit of Truth is with him. He may appear weak like David, the simple shepherd boy, but he is strengthened and blessed in opposing the unjust "Goliath," the power structure.

Administrators who make up the power structures are like rats: corner them and they become angry and defensive. They are offended and "bite." They don't care so much about the original mission. They just seek to perpetuate their functioning, like a machine that's gone amok.

They'll pay attention to anything that threatens them in the short-term, but the long-term picture often evades their interests. In fact, they may not have any idea what the long-range consequences of their decisions are likely to be. Even if they finally realize their error, pride almost always prevents them from admitting the truth, and they dig in their heels.

For them, getting through a day, a month or a year is enough. They have higher-ups and owners to please and concerns that are never mentioned in public.

Yes, the troublemaker may be found anywhere, in any time or place. Depending upon the setting, he, or she, just doesn't seem to know when to shut up. He's an imperfect individual, just like any other, but he sees something and can't let it go. It's his destiny — his cross to bear.

He might exist in the schools and universities, exposing what is wrong with how the university is run, what is being taught or the policies of the university towards students. A student, professor or other staff can become a troublemaker if they challenge what is being imposed by the administration. Such a troublemaker, should she be a professor, is ostracized, ridiculed and often loses any chance for advancement or for a tenured position, no matter how excellent is the quality of her work.

He might exist in a corporation, business, government agency or even a nonprofit organization. Anywhere there is an administrative governing body of executives and managers, there eventually will be a troublemaker who challenges the policies being set in place.

A patient advocate is a troublemaker. He questions the treatment being provided or not provided to the patient. He affirms the rights of the patient and not only provides information to the patient and his or her family, he also reminds those providing care that the patient has rights (whatever they might be in various nations, states and niches within healthcare).

Patient advocates educate and point out the right from the wrong, the good from the bad, the beneficial from the harmful way of caring or not caring for the patient. Patient advocates may meet with healthcare staff and administrators to work on behalf of the patient. In a culture of death setting, their input is usually not welcomed, while in a culture of life care setting their input is valued and often acted upon.

Patient advocates may file complaints with the state or federal government, work with legislators to change the laws, or with attorneys to obtain justice through the court system. They may publicize what the healthcare agency or the government is doing in order to improve conditions for those who are the most vulnerable of all. Patient advocates may sit with the patient and family, praying and listening to their concerns. Simply being with the patient and family members is a great service and is much appreciated.

The troublemaker has a mission, a vision of what should be, could be and is meant to be. He is sincere. And when the vulnerable are afflicted, he comes to their assistance, serving them as best he can. "Why doesn't he just leave them be?" those in authority wonder. "Why doesn't he just let them die?" "Why bother?"

They hate him. "Here he comes, again!" they moan. "What does he want now?" "Why doesn't he just go away?" "How can we get rid of him?" And sometimes, they do just that and literally ban family members or other patient advocates from entering the facility. They have been known to lie to the police — bringing trumped up and false allegations against him, to make sure he does not enter the building again and cause even more "trouble" to what they intend happen to the patient.

Many other staff definitely see and understand what the patient advocate attempts to do, but they just want to avoid trouble. They want everything to "just be peaceful," even if terribly unjust actions are occurring. They mutter among themselves, "When will he ever learn?" "He's just alienating people." "Why won't he just drop it?"

Jesus explained, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34)." This is the sword of Truth. Those who hear His voice cannot turn their backs on those in need, or the mission, and betray them. They cannot "drop it" at any price.

Many cannot understand this saying, but the troublemaker knows. When the troublemaker confronts those in authority with truth, their response is to use force or power over others. The pretense is gone; there is no partnership in the work, no real working together, no collaboration. It's a one-way street, top down, authority imposing its new direction or policy upon the staff and patients. It's what it really was all along, but now the illusion of an imagined partnership between the staff and administrators is ripped away.

Even though they are engaged in battle for those in need, those who hear His voice find His peace within. They go the way of the Light, establishing the culture of life, but those who reject the dear Lord and His way establish the culture of death. They say, "Just let it go!" "Work with us!" but what they really mean is, "Obey!" no matter how wrong they may be!

Evil strives against the good. The troublemaker, whether patient advocate, whistleblower or other, is caring for the right way, for those in need, and what is right never changes. What is the loving thing to do remains the loving thing to do. Correcting those who go astray is the right and loving thing to do. Caring for the patient's actual clinical needs is the right and loving thing to do.

Those administrators who go astray and place pride, greed or ambition ahead of the patients' welfare are warned repeatedly by troublemakers who speak up with the hope that they return to the way of life. It is by their own choice that they finally commit to the wrong or the right way. They are given every chance to relent and do what is right.

"For whom the Lord loves He corrects;
even as a father the son in whom he delights." - Proverbs 3:12

But as different as dark is to light, the misguided administrator refuses to change her unjust direction and decisions while the troublemaker continues to care, to love and to plead for those who have no voice. She has no choice in the matter if she is to remain true to God and the vulnerable. God continues to care throughout, and the troublemaker must do so as well!

Yes, there is a right way to do all things, and she must respond when harmful actions are done. There is good reason that standards of care exist for each and every action undertaken in a healthcare setting! In a culture of death care setting, the standards are set to whatever is considered "professional."

In a culture of life setting, those professional standards necessarily include also doing what is the loving thing to do, the actions that affirm the life of the patient. It is not enough to properly perform any particular technique, we must also actively relate to the patient as a fellow human being.

It is not enough to properly diagnose a patient, we must care enough to do what is necessary to help him. How many patients we can bill for and how many we treat are not the measure of a truly successful work. How and that we care, when we serve them, is all-important.

With this understanding, the advocate speaks up that others may not go astray or be harmed. Other staff can join her or choose to cast their lot with those who betray the patients and the vulnerable. They may say, "There's nothing you can do about it!" "We acted professionally!"

But, there is a right way to care for those in need. Either we do it right, or we don't and fail that patient. We must choose.

In sports, you don't go out on the field or the court unless you are going to give it your all. Otherwise, you shouldn't play. Once you step onto the field, you're making a statement (or should be), "I'm going to give my best." In the military, you don't go into action unless you do everything you can for your mission, otherwise people die.

In healthcare, the same applies: you don't step onto the floor to care for people, and you shouldn't be managing the mission, unless you are going to do your best for the mission, for the sake of the patients and all who will be affected by each and every thing you do. This is what the "troublemaker" knows. This is what is etched into her heart. However, not everyone enters the field for the right reason.

If we love, if His love has been placed in our hearts, we can do nothing other than advocate for those who are so much in need. His unchanging love guides our steps along this path. This is the sacrificial love that arises out of our reverence for God and for life.

Saul of Tarsus, later called Paul, was a dedicated and well-respected Pharisee who thought he was protecting the righteous when he persecuted the early Christians. He was sincere in his erroneous beliefs and totally convinced he was doing the right thing, but he was close-minded and didn't listen to the many Christian Jews who spoke to him.

Because he was sincere, he was capable of being converted on the road to Damascus and then followed the dear Lord Jesus. Because he was sincere, he was able to admit his terrible error in persecuting the Christians. Although he had been one of the most dedicated of the Pharisees, the moment he reversed course and condemned what he himself had been doing and the wrong in what the Pharisees were doing, they began to seek how to destroy him. The Pharisees would not consider the possibility of their being wrong.

In just the same way, administrators in the culture of death prove that whatever they decide to do is supremely important to them — more important than any one dispensable troublemaker, be he a Saul or any other dedicated follower. They show that, contrary to what they may say publicly, their authority is so important to them that they refuse to allow any challenge or change to what they have decreed, no matter how wrong the direction of their actions may be.

No matter how much work the troublemaker may do or how well he does it, or how right his message is, they dig their heels in, refusing to bend at all. They are willing to lose that troublemaker nurse, doctor, agent or employee and all he could accomplish, rather than admit their error and turn away from the one little (or big) decision that they insist on making.

They say, "I've got an agency (ship, business, army, corporation, etc.) to run!" "It has to be this way!" They argue, "We can't respond to the concerns of everyone." "Better to get rid of him and maintain order." And if they are truly evil, "Better than one man should die for the people (John 18:14)."

Though many do not see the consequences at the time, eventually, even years later, the practice of not caring about the concerns of "everyone" (any one troublemaker that comes along) becomes not caring about the concerns of "anyone." The rightful mission of the work is completely abandoned and betrayed.

Historically, in the tyrannical governmental setting, those troublemakers are attacked. "Punish him!" "Throw him in the dungeon!" "Make sure he never disrupts operations again!" they shout.

There are all sorts of troublemakers in the culture of death, and there are all sorts of cultures of death, too. At the very heart of the culture of death approach is the rejection of God's just way and His loving-kindness or mercy. There is a rejection of what is right, however big or small a matter it may seem.

At the very heart of the troublemaker is an inability to betray his sense of what is just and right. He, like any real advocate, cannot allow the vulnerable to be abused, neglected and harmed. He cannot allow deception or misunderstandings about what is happening to remain.

He speaks up so that everyone knows what is true, accurate and right. He strives to keep the original and true mission on track, even if he has to sacrifice himself in the process.

In ancient times, the most famous troublemakers were prophets, but the greatest troublemaker of them all was the dear Lord Jesus: He is trouble to all who embrace evil, yet Savior to those who see their own imperfection and feel genuine remorse at the terrible wrong they have done, who sincerely seek the dear Lord's forgiveness, and who then choose to follow His way.

What happens when the troublemaker first shows up? He warns the people, "Don't do this!" "Don't go this way!" "There is danger ahead!" "This is not the way!"

Just like a mother and father tell their child, "Don't put your hand in the fire!" "Don't walk too close to the cliff!" "Don't do this and don't do that!" and on and on, covering all the activities of life.

In many cases, children don't really like to be told not to do something. They want to actually do whatever it is they want to do. They don't want anyone to interfere with their desires. Uncontrolled, child man often learns not so much by what his parents tell him to do. He learns by doing what he is told not to do, and when he suffers, he learns that Mom and Dad were right.

As the years go by, the dangers and lessons to learn change, but he still bends the rules trying to see if he can get away with doing the wrong and not get "burnt." But life has a way of hitting us — smacking us down, and some of us never get back up. Of course, some are "lucky" and do the wrong without any apparent repercussion. Others get stung right away.

One child may put his hand in the fire and really burn himself badly while another may pull his hand away soon enough to avoid damage, but still learn how dangerous fire can be. Some young adults will risk their lives on dangerous stunts and live to tell the story, while others die or end up disabled for the rest of their lives. Some take alcohol or drugs and never get addicted, while others are ruined for life.

Just because something doesn't destroy us right away, doesn't mean it won't in the end. We may think, "Oh, nothing's gone wrong yet, so I'll just continue what I've been doing," but over time, suffering and destruction will overtake us, one way or another in the end. When it's too late, we realize, "I should have listened!"

The troublemaker walks a solitary path. Jesus, who was welcomed by cheering crowds of people waving palm branches, was abandoned and condemned shortly thereafter by many of the same people, once He challenged those hypocritical Pharisees (John 12:13, 19:6). Many of the people did not wish to be condemned along with Him, so they betrayed Him.

Although he continues to offer friendship, the troublemaker is abandoned and shunned by those who had been friends to him. He walks a "road less traveled," but his companion is Truth and so, he is never really alone. As a man, he may be afraid and even lonely at times, but only when he forgets why he chose this path and Who walks beside him each step of the way, carrying him when he falters in climbing a steep hill.

Many have stumbled on their way. Some have tried to do everything possible not to serve in the role of troublemaker, trying desperately to just live a normal, simple life. But if they have been chosen by the dear Lord, they cannot avoid their mission. The love placed within their hearts impels them to act.

The prophet Jonah was called to go to the city of Nineveh and warn the people that their city would be destroyed if they did not stop what they were doing and start to live a righteous life. The very first thing he did was flee on a ship going the other way (Jonah 1:1-4).

And what of the other prophets? Did they perfectly obey, or did they question God at some point, resist at some point, until they saw clearly what was to be done? Being human, they must have had doubts and must have resisted for some time. They had their fears of reprisals, loss of job or any semblance of a normal life, but they finally followed what they knew within to be the right way.

Of course, when the prophets (troublemakers in the eyes of those who ruled and violated the divine law) came over and over again to warn the kings and other leaders as well as the people to turn away from their errors, they were often despised. It wasn't easy for them, just as it isn't easy for any troublemaker trying to affirm what is right.

In many cases, the troublemaker's warnings are not heeded. Rather than listening to her message at all, many pity her, believing she has really lost her way. In many cases, troublemakers are disparaged, judged to be horribly wrong and condemned.

As an exception, Nineveh repented when they heard the Lord's warning through the prophet Jonah. But most cities and peoples refused to listen to the warnings of the prophets. Destruction did not always come immediately. Sometimes, it took years or even decades for the consequences of their wrong actions to bear fruit. Sometimes years passed before a kingdom was lost, a mission went astray, a battle was lost.

The people and those in authority almost always think they know better than that troublemaker who is warning them to stop and do what is right. When life continues without any immediate catastrophe, they convince themselves and others that the troublemaker is not only wrong, but a fool.

However, truth is truth, and the troublemaker is wedded to the truth, whatever the cost. She recognizes the culture of death around her in how the mission is betrayed. She understands that because they do not see the mission or the patient as they truly are, those who are not participants in the culture of life can only do what they do, even when they condemn, abandon and harm her as well as others (Luke 23:24).

What makes the troublemaker so dangerous to the culture of death is that it is built upon lie after lie after lie, and when she speaks even one truth to power, she exposes the lie behind every aspect of it. For those who actually make the effort to look and see, even the seemingly small candle she carries brings a great light into a very dark world.

When the mere appearance of good falls away, the truth about the entire power structure, agency or project is revealed. The destructive reality of what has happened to the mission is revealed. In fact, the actual mission, that has been completely forgotten by too many, or that has never been understood, is seen in all its beauty and goodness.

Although so many will have eventually suffered unnecessarily due to the betrayal of the mission at hand, what the patients actually need will be clearly perceived. Then, the work of restoring the culture of life will begin.3 The real mission of properly caring for and serving those in need will be fulfilled and His blessings will accompany each and every thing that is done.




Endnotes:


  1.   Ron Panzer "Man in the World - Part Six, Restoring the Culture of Life (The Ethics of Life in Healthcare and Society),
            2013, Hospice Patients Alliance Back

  2.   Tom Meyer, "Investigator: Nurse says she was fired for reporting alleged abuse," Mar 6, 2013, WKYC News.
         David Cole, "Lawsuit: Nurse fired for reporting doctor," May 24, 2013, The Coeur d' Alene Press
         Tara Kinsell, "Hospital employee claims she was fired for whistleblowing," Oct 22, 2013, The Observer-Reporter
         Richard Chin, "Fired nurse says United Hospital trauma care endangers patients," June 20, 2013, Twin Cities Pioneer Press Back

  3.   Ron Panzer "Restoring the Culture of Life (The Ethics of Life in Healthcare and Society),
            2013, Hospice Patients Alliance Back


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