Editorials by Robert Kirwan
Mighty Oak Was Once A Little Nut That Stood It’s Ground…
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.
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
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
for new medicine. The
New Drug Section had only 60 days to review each application before giving
approval or asking for more information.
few months after one young doctor joined the FDA, an established
pharmaceutical firm in
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
. 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.
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.
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
were spared untold
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.
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.
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