Letting a cut go untreated in the tropics is a recipe for disaster. The combination of heat and humidity is a wonderful accelerator for infection and bad things that follow. As I watched a vintage news clip of World War II prisons emerging from a jungle prison, the natural outcome of untreated cuts and soars were obvious.
By all accounts, untreated cuts began to stink as the infections grew. For those unable to move and clean their bodies, this was a very dangerous slide. Infections could dominate and eventually destroy the host. Additionally there was always the risk of insects or maggots finding a home in the rotting flesh.
It was heart wrenching to watch the old clips. The men did the best they could. Often it was not enough to survive. When it was combined with a lack of food and too much work, one witnessed the record of living skeletons. Many tried to help others as best they could. The harsh reality is that many did not make it.
As I watched I realized that the reasons may have changed but the outcome is still the same. Untreated cuts in our lives fester. Left untreated, they often get worse. The progression is a slippery slide that can end in destruction of the best within us. A writer once vividly described the results; “The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots because I’ve lived so badly.” (Psalm 38.5) While one rarely sees this on someone alive today, metaphorically it is far too common.
The vintage clips leave me with reminders and hope. First, treatments are available. Access to medicines and things that help in the healing process are better than they have ever been in our history. Second, if we are willing to let them, there are people in our lives that are willing to help.
The clips chronicle how life is a two-way street. In weakness we can make a difference to others. Cuts untreated will, in time, overwhelm and destroy us from the inside out. We are sources of healing and hope.