In 1885 a pair of distraught parents came to Louis Pasteur in tears. Their son had been bitten by a rabid dog and they were desperate to find a way to save him from developing rabies. Louis was a scientist with an unquenchable curiosity and desire to help others. His studies in microbiology, a field he practically invented, had helped doctors to understand the way that diseases spread. Before Pasteur, many doctors didn’t even take the time to wash their hands between working with carcasses and performing surgeries. They couldn’t believe that anything as tiny as a germ could harm a human being.
By 1885 Louis had been toying with the idea of vaccination for a while, but up to this point he had only practiced his new ideas on animals. He hesitated to inject the poor boy with weak germs. Eventually, he decided he had to do whatever he could. He vaccinated the young boy and saved his life.
Pasteur went on to create vaccinations for rabies and anthrax. His methods have helped doctors and scientists to save an uncountable number of lives.
Although he was a scientist, Louis Pasteur always strove to make his discoveries practical and helpful to the general public. Many of his discoveries still help us every day. For example, every time you pour yourself a glass of milk or wine you have Pasteur to thank. Before his time, wine and milk often grew rancid and dangerous to drink. He developed the process we now call PASTEURization, to keep these delicious beverages safe.
Where did Pasteur’s inspiration come from? Fellow scientists and doctors sometimes laughed at him. Be it from jealousy or genuine disbelief, his peers fought him on many points for years and years. And yet Pasteur never gave up. He worked hard on his practical science until the time he died. What drove him to such a hard worked life?
What many don’t know about Louis Pasteur, was that he had a ridiculously painful personal life. One of his dear sisters became mentally retarded after a devastating bout of child illness. Three of his five children died from childhood diseases. Even Pasteur himself became partially paralyzed in 1868 due to a brain stroke.
Pasteur could have been bitter. He could have lived his entire life complaining about his bad luck. Instead, he turned his sorrow into strength to help save other children in the memory of those he had lost. Every time we are faced with misery, we have a choice. Will I be so consumed by anger or self-pity that I fall into deep depression? Or is this situation going to make me stronger? Can it help me shape my goals? And encourage me to help others?
Next time you pour yourself a glass of milk or wine, remember Louis Pasteur and how you too can turn sorrow into strength to make the world a better place.
By: Susanna Olson
Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:
“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...
When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier.
...All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up...