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THE SEARCH FOR MEANING

Rector's Blog

THE SEARCH FOR MEANING

StNicholas Goulburn

The psychological need for meaning is inarguable. Physician, professor, and author Atul Gawande tells of a doctor working at a nursing home who persuaded its administrator to bring in dogs, cats, parakeets, a colony of rabbits, and even a group of laying hens to be cared for by the residents. The results were significant. “The residents began to wake up and come to life. People who we had believed weren’t able to speak started speaking. … People who had been completely withdrawn and nonambulatory started coming to nurses’ station and saying, ‘I’ll take the dog for a walk.’ All the parakeets were adopted and named by the residents.” The use and need for psychotropic drugs for agitation dropped significantly, to 38 percent of the previous level. And “deaths fell 15 percent.” Why? The architect of these changes concluded, “I believe that the difference in death rates can be traced to the fundamental human need for a reason to live.” Gawande goes on to ask “why simply existing— why being merely housed and fed and safe and alive— seems empty and meaningless to us. What more is it that we need in order to feel that life is worthwhile? The answer … is that we all seek a cause beyond ourselves.”

Keller, Timothy. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Sceptical (pp. 58-59). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.

Ross Hathway.