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Mental Ilness, Modern Day "Leprosy"

I recently finished the novel "The Leper" by Sigmund Brouwer, based on the painting by Ron DiCianni. This book opened my mind to new thoughts about leprosy which I never knew. There were many parallels between leprosy and mental illness. The first being a grave misunderstanding of the disease, such as, one can catch the disease by touching another with leprosy. This is a fallacy which Doctors can validate. As I read deeper into the novel, there was an unmistakable realization which founded in ignorance may not always be such. There were those who longed for an excuse to discard lepers into loneliness and isolation. Many thought the adage "to be out of sight was out of mind" a convenient rationalization to not care.

A leper was the dreg of society and was not viewed with much worth to its causes. Lepers were thought not be a productive force as a human being in contributing to business life and social enhancement. Even the Reverend Terwillegar allowed his ignorance of the disease to prejudice him towards Nathaniel the leper. There is a key quote recited by Dr. Cullipin who finds Nathaniel forsaken in a dirty cattle shed, and discovers the heartless lack of compassion on the part of the church leadership including the Archbishop. "There is a man who needs help and compassion, and even though he has the misfortune of remaining in the bosom of the church, I intend to see he gets it."

Our ignorance and lack of education has prejudiced us towards those suffering with mood disorders and mental illness. It has been convenient to discard individuals like cattle to their sheds. I have heard comments like "but you don't get it, people are uncomfortable with things they don't understand. In a day with the availability of information, including the internet, this excuse is running quite thin. I believe it has been selfishly convenient to stigmatize a sect of society which deal with mental illness because it requires something from all of us. It may require a humbling of our pride as individuals in these circumstances can be poor and needy. I can visualize and hear the typical church board members' wheels turning as they ask, "what will it cost to meet this need? It is wearisome to me when I hear or see the church lead with that question rather than the Christ like statement of "Let us Love these people first and foremost." And may I add, it is much easier to only throw money at these issues because it allows us to apply the temporary salve and then move on. There also is a requirement of time and energy which many placate their conscience by a cavalier approach. Dr. Cullipin shot straight "relieve me of your dogma and spirit of piety, this man needs love and understanding. I fully recognize this setting was a stately England cloaked in church tradition. Unfortunately, the symbolism is too close to many of our American institutions. Concerts of Hope has a purposeful intention to love individuals, and families who others have relegated to the preverbial cattle shed where only darkness and depression lurk. Society never dignifies itself when someone suffering with a mood disorder is mistreated or stigmatized further.

The power to encourage, love and advocate for these persons is found in Concerts of Hope. We at Concerts of Hope believe there is reformation like potential wrapped up in this cause. It is worthy of our time, energy and financial investment. Perhaps you are looking for new ways to bless people and families struggling and endeavoring to cope with this heinous disease. Concerts of Hope may be the cause where your investment will result in an unestimable life changing impact.


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