As the story of Hippocrates and The Hobgoblin continues to grow, and now with the recent release of the audiobook, more people have reached out to me about my inspiration..."Why did you write it?".
It's difficult to delve into, but it reflects a poignant moment for me. I was working late in my ER shift, and a patient arrived as a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. We did all that we could, but he did not survive. Something that plagues all of us in Emergency Medicine, is that dreadful second, the creak of the door handle, as you enter the family room to deliver the news. I briefly made eye contact with everyone as I introduced myself, but a small boy stood and approached me before I could continue. With tears in his eyes, he asked me a simple question. He knew his father was gone. That is not what concerned him. He wanted to know one thing.
"Is my daddy going to Hell?"
It stunned me for a moment. How do you answer something so deeply philosophical to a room full of devout Catholics? To a child? I cleared my throat, and gave an honest answer.
"No. I don't believe God punishes those who suffer."
As I left work that evening, the ride home was quiet. I often need to decompress after witnessing such loss, but this time there was no music. No phone calls. Just the hum of my Jeep tires on the back-country road. My mind kept racing, however, and it would not let that moment leave the forefront of my consciousness. Why do we believe, or why are we taught that victims of a disease deserve eternal damnation? Anyone who treats and diagnoses mental illness understands the pathology behind it all. True, there is still much to learn, but I couldn't help but think this judgement was antiquated. Perhaps it was derived from clerics who did not understand science let alone psychiatry. They presumed it was choice. A choice people make because they are weak? Is it a choice because they are lost? In choice, we can project responsibility, and this in itself makes our world one of judgement. Free will is easy to punish when one presumes the person had a choice at all.
Therein lies the fallacy. With mental illness, there is no choice. Once you've managed a manic bipolar patient in the ER, you realize no one would "choose" that existence. No one chooses to be depressed. No one chooses to have schizophrenia. Mental illness is a disease much like diabetes or high blood pressure. It is a complex exchange of neurochemicals within our minds, and for those with disease, they can not always control what they experience or feel. We don't judge people with diabetes, and we would never send people with high blood pressure to Hades. Why do we project this upon an ill mind? The brain is an organ much like the heart and the liver. It is the only organ responsible for caring for all the others, and when it is broken, it cannot care for itself. These people don't deserve judgement. They deserve compassion.
This led me to the purpose of my writings. As I edit the sequel in this series, I remind myself why the Vagus are so pivotal, so crucial to our humanity. This tale is an epic fantasy of duality. It has been entertaining for many of you, and for others, the ones that have felt the lessons within the book, they find some semblance. As you read the adventures of Creed and Ojin, bear in mind that we all deserve an opportunity for paradise, especially those that have already suffered the lashings of a path beyond their control.