In 1884 an English surgeon paid a shilling to see a freak who was advertised as the “Elephant Man.” he described the man as follows:”The Most striking feature about him was his enormous and mis-shapened head. From the brow there projected a huge bony mass like a loaf, while from the back of the head hung a bag of spongy, fungous-looking skin, the surface of which was comparable to brown cauliflower. On the top of the skull were a few long thin hairs. From the upper jaw there projected another mass of bone. It protruded from the mouth like a pink stump, turning the upper lip inside out and making of the mouth a mere slobbering aperture. Although he was already repellent enough, there arose from the fungous skin growth, with which he was almost entirely covered, a very sickening stench which was hard to tolerate.”
The surgeon, Sir Frederick Treves, befriended the man (Joseph Merrick) and gave him a place to live in peace and comfort. He found the man to be gentle, affectionate, and intelligent, without bitterness or resentment for the miserable life he had endured. However, except for Sir Frederick, people were repelled by the man: women screamed at the sight of him.
Sir Frederick knew that Merrick needed the acquaintance of men and women. He asked a friend of his, a young and pretty widow, if she thought she could enter Merrick’s room with a smile, wish him good morning and shake his hand. She said she could and she did.
The effect upon poor Merrick was not quite what he had expected. Sir Frederick reported: “As he let go of her hand he bent his head on his knees and sobbed until I thought he would never cease!” He told her afterwards that she was the first woman who had EVER smiled at him, the first woman in the whole of his life, who had shaken his hand. From this day, the transformation of Merrick commenced and he began to change, little by little, from a hunted “thing” into a man.
When I heard this account, I thought a lot about the heart of Sir Frederick Treves. What an amazing leader! What a man of action! What an act of charity and service to someone who could do nothing to advance his cause.
I believe to truly add value to others, we must love them. A great leader I know once told me:
“Love those whom you seek to lead; if you stop loving them stop leading them.”
Onward & Upward My Friends, Lisa