Summary: Dr. Kuntaraf shares true and inspiring stories and studies of how supporting each other has a direct affect on health. A must read!

Bargaining at what cost?

One day a man walked into a dentist’s office and asked, "How much will it cost to extract a wisdom tooth?" "$130," the dentist replied. "That’s a ridiculous amount," the man exclaimed." Isn’t there a cheaper way?"

"Well," said the dentist, "if I don’t use an anesthetic, I can knock it down to $100, but it would be very painful." "That’s still too expensive," the man said.

"Okay," said the dentist. "I can save time if, instead of using my normal surgical procedure, I simply rip the tooth out with pliers. I could get away with charging $50."

"Nope," moaned the man, "it’s still too much."

"Hmm," said the dentist, scratching his head. "If I let one of my students do it for the experience, I suppose I could just charge you $25."

"Marvelous," said the man, "book an appointment for my wife next week!"

What kind of support do we give our spouse? What kind of support do we give our children? Our coworkers in the office or our counterpart in the field?

Two blessings by one action

Matthew 7:12 says, in everything do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Jesus Christ admonishes that we follow His golden rule—a rule that is so simple and practical, but this principle is so often ignored. We expect other people to support us, but we do not apply the same rule to them. It is important to realize that whatever the Lord advises us to do is always for our own good.

In Testimonies, Vol. 2, p. 534, we read: "Those who ... engage in the work of doing good to others by giving practical demonstration of their interest in them, are not only relieving the ills of human life in helping them bear their burdens, but are at the same time contributing largely to their own health of soul and body."

The effects of kindness and support

There are many studies done that show the positive impact of doing good and being kind to others. One such interesting study was conducted by Dr. David Spiegel and reported in the British journal, The Lancet. Initially the goal of the study was to disprove the study of Dr. Bernie Siegel, author of several books which proposed that psychological and social factors could prolong life in cancer patients.

Here is what Dr. Spiegel did. He randomly divided women with metastatic breast cancer into two groups. Both groups received conventional medical care— radical mastectomy surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and medications. One of the two groups was asked to meet together for ninety minutes, once a week, for one full year.

Each cancer patient in this group was encouraged to express her feelings about her illness and its effect on her life within a supportive environment. Each felt safe enough to express what she was feeling, including the fear of disfigurement, fear of dying, fear of being abandoned by her friends and spouse, and so forth.

This support group was led by a psychiatrist or social worker and a therapist who had breast cancer in remission. The therapy group patients visited each other in the hospital, wrote poems to each other, and even had a meeting at the home of a dying member. Five years later, Dr. Spiegel looked at the data and he said "he almost fell off his chair." Remember, his main purpose for the study was to disprove that psychological and social factors could prolong life in cancer patients.

Here are the results: The women who met in the weekly support group lived an average of twice as long as the other group of women without a support group. All of the women in the latter group were dead after five years. The only women still alive were those who had received the weekly support sessions. Also, the interval from the first metastasis to death was significantly longer in those who had received the weekly support.

Lower mortality?

So many studies reveal the impact of doing good to others. And these studies show the positive impact that doing good has on our immune system. Let me share one more such study. The Roseto study was published in the American Journal of Public Health. Roseto is an Italian-American town located in eastern Pennsylvania that has been studied intensively for over fifty years. When compared to Bangor and Nazareth, other nearby communities, the population of Roseto was found to have had a strikingly low mortality rate from heart attacks during the first thirty years it was studied.

It is interesting to note that risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, a high fat diet, diabetes, et cetera, were at least as prevalent in Roseto as in Bangor and Nazareth. All three communities were served by the same hospital facilities, water supply, and physicians.

The researchers could not understand why the incidence of heart attacks was so much lower in Roseto. They wondered if Roseto’s stable structure, its emphasis on family cohesiveness and the supportive nature of the Italian community that migrated there from southern Italy, may have been protective against heart attacks and conducive to longevity.

Roseto shifts

To their amazement, they were correct. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Roseto shifted from three-generation households with a strong commitment to religion, relationships, and traditional values and practices of supporting one another to a less cohesive, fragmented, and isolated community. People started to live more individualistic lives, with little support for one another. This loosening of family ties and weakening of the community in Roseto was accompanied by a substantial increase in deaths due to heart attack. In fact, the mortality rate rose to the same level as that of Bangor and Nazareth, the neighboring communities.

This study again demonstrates the positive impact of supporting one another. God loves us, and when He advises us to lovingly support one another, it is not only for the good of the receiver, but also for the good of the giver.

"One another" commands

The question is, "How can we genuinely support one another?" By looking at the cross. Because at the foot of the cross, the ground is level. There, there is no uneducated or educated person, poor or rich, low or high ranking, black, brown, yellow or white. We all have the same value—the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we need to support one another, including our spouse, our children, our coworkers, and our counterparts.

In the New Testament, there are seventy-five verses that are known as the "one another" commands. If we only lived according to these commands, what a heavenly environment we would experience. Not just in our families, but in our workplace and community. "The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love" (Christ Object Lessons, p. 415). Jesus says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (Jn 13:35).

When we love God and have a strong and healthy vertical relationship with Him, it will automatically produce a strong and healthy horizontal relationship to others. We do not have to worry as to what to say or what to do, because as the branch is connected to the True Vine, it will automatically bear the fruit of supporting one another in the form of accepting one another, forgiving one another, praying for one another, encouraging one another, and helping one another in the spirit of love.

As we serve the Lord today, may we continue to be connected to the True Vine, genuinely supporting one another from our hearts and become a blessing to others as well as to ourselves.

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January–March, 2005

Health