Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Doc Didn't Own a Mercedes or a Mansion--Which Made Him All the More Impressive

I admit it: I google my own name every once in awhile. And by "once in awhile," I mean, ahem ... once a week.

I count the number of Google search pages my name appears on. It's vain, I know. But honestly, it makes me feel like my life is meaningful. I don't make much money or wield any power. I sometimes feel invisible to the world, insignificant in it. So when I see someone posted my name on their website, I get a bit giddy. Ahem, a lot giddy. It pleases me that I've perhaps impressed someone.

Yesterday, my dad handed me a newspaper obituary about someone who was truly impressive: Dr. Albert Goldstein.

You probably don't recognize the name, and there's no reason you would. Dr. Goldstein ran a small private medical practice in a small town. He offered medical aid primarily to poor families who couldn't afford health insurance. When he opened his medical practice shortly after the end of the Korean War, he charged patients $2 for an office visit. Over the years, he did raise his rates--he was charging a whopping $5 this year. No, I didn't leave off any zeros there, and let me spell it out so it sinks in. A medical doctor ... who cared for patients who didn't have insurance ... and he charged them FIVE DOLLARS for an office visit.

There was no secret fund or money-making scheme; Dr. Goldstein's lifestyle and possessions were humble. He retired from full-time work in 1990 at the age of 70, but never fully retired--he kept his clinic open three days a week until less than a month before the end of his life. Just so he could care for poor people who had nothing to give him in return.

And those who he cared for never forgot him. Like my dad. Back in the 70s, my dad needed a physical exam in order to get a job with the postal service. Dad didn't have medical insurance, and didn't know how he'd be able to rake together enough cash. So he went to see Dr. Goldstein.

Along with the discounted medical service, Dad had appreciated Dr. Goldstein's easy-going, down-to-earth demeanor. He handed me the obituary, verifying every word of praise in it was true. "That's exactly who he was," Dad said.

My dad had been deeply impressed by this man's life.

Like me, Dr. Goldstein didn't make much money or wield any power. I googled his name, and it only returned a couple hits. It seems Dr. Goldstein worked on the Manhattan Project, something which might impress a lot of people. But when asked about it over the years by local reporters, he'd always downplayed his role.

Dr. Goldstein didn't need a resume, a cool car, or a big house to impress others. It's got me thinking about the person I want to be, the impression I want to leave. Do I want to be best-dressed, prettiest, or the girl who died with the most Google hits? Nah. I'd rather be a person who inspires a look like the one I saw in my dad's eyes--to be someone totally unforgettable for all the best reasons.

To ponder:
What are some ways you try to impress people? What are some of the qualities of those people who truly impress you the most?

2) Jesus Christ left the biggest impression in history. Think about his life. How does his simplicity factor into how impressive he is? Do you think you'd be more impressed if Jesus had been a rich king?

3) Many celebrities give tons of money and contribute much to charitable organizations. Yet, we hear little about their benevolence and much about the details of their wealthy lifestyles. Why do you think the media and the public are more interested in wealth and fame than in kindness and generosity?

4) Think about an uber famous celebrity, such as Steven Spielberg. Now, think about a nameless, starving child in another country. Honestly, who would you rather impress? Think about your reasons for your choice. If you did a favor for both Spielberg and the starving child, which one do you think would be left with a deeper impression of you?

4) Consider this verse: "... don't be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are." (Galatians 5:26, CEV). Think about the ways we try to impress others. Are wealth and power likely to cause conceit or jealousy? Are the so-called "
fruits of the spirit" (such as kindness, patience, and peace)--the evidence that shows how God is reshaping our character--likely to cause conceit or jealousy?

Pomona doctor really cared for needy

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