Editorials by Robert Kirwan

 The Mighty Oak Was Once A Little Nut That Stood It’s Ground…     
    “The mighty oak was once a little nut that stood it’s ground”. A powerful message is contained in that simple quotation. Since I first came across it several years ago, the phrase stuck with me and I have had opportunity to repeat it to myself many, many times.

   There are instances in everyone’s life when you are forced to stand up for your principles and fight for what you believe in. Often you find that you are the only one in the crowd with the vision to see into the future and you find yourself in a struggle to open the eyes of those around you. It is then that you realize that it is so much easier to follow the crowd, but it takes courage and intelligence to hold your ground and be different.

   This brings to mind a story that dates back to the 1960's when drug companies were presenting nearly 700 applications a year to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States for new medicine. The New Drug Section had only 60 days to review each application before giving approval or asking for more information.

   A few months after one young doctor joined the FDA, an established pharmaceutical firm in Ohio applied for a license to market a new drug, Kevadon. In liquid form, the drug appeared to relieve nausea in early pregnancy. It was given to millions of expectant women, mostly in Europe , Asia and Africa . Although scientific studies revealed harmful side effects, the company printed tens of thousands of leaflets declaring its safety. The company also exerted tremendous pressure on the young doctor to give permission for labels to be printed in anticipation of the drug’s approval.

   The doctor reviewed the data and refused approval for the drug. After several rounds of applications, she continued to find the data unsatisfactory and refused to grant permission to market the drug. She faced great pressure from colleagues and from the industry for her actions and realized that it would have made her life so much easier if she just gave in and allowed the drug to be put on the market.

   After a struggle which lasted more than a year and a half, the company humbly withdrew its application. You see, Kevadon was thalidomide, and by that time the horror of thalidomide deformities was becoming well publicized. Because this young doctor had stood her ground, young people in the United States were spared untold agony.

   The lesson was as clear then as it is today. Sometimes standing your ground on an issue does not seem that important, but in time you may see the big picture. The most frustrating times occur when you see the big picture but those around you do not. Those are the times when your courage is tested. Especially when you realize that your arguments and presentations are constantly being opposed by others who are more interested in immediate personal gratification or in some underlying political motives rather than in long-term benefits.

   Regardless of the opposition, you must always remember that it is your ultimate responsibility to speak out for those things in which your believe to be true. Do not allow others to make you give in if you are certain you are right. It will always be easier to give up and follow the crowd, but it takes tremendous strength and courage to lead the crowd. And above all, do not remain silent. If you do, others may take your silence as agreement with their position. Let your opinion be known and remain firm.
   This is a very difficult time in the history of mankind. There are so many issues and concerns that we are faced with on a daily basis. There are so many times when we come up against opposition that seems absolutely insurmountable. It is so much easier to keep your mouth shut and allow the “bullies of society” to do their thing, as long as they leave you alone. That is not an option for anyone who truly cares about his or her self worth and integrity. And today, a person’s self-worth and integrity is something that is worth fighting for.

   So next time you are faced with a tough challenge, remember the mighty oak tree. It too was once a little nut which stood its ground, and look at it now.

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