Way back in the year 1860, the science of bateriology was still in its infancy. In that day, surgeons would operate with bare hands and their instruments weren not heat-sterilized nor disinfected chemically. As a result, the post-operative mortality rate was kicking around 90% in numerous hospitals.
In that context, a man named Joseph Lister launched a passionate campaign against the unsanitory practices and poor hygeine of surgeons. Most doctors scoffed at Lister’s campaign. They felt that his heartfelt plea to have surgery that was “antiseptic” was over-the-top and misguided. He was ridiculed, critized, and dismissed by the majority of surgeons and doctors. But despite the negative reactions he received by the medical profession, he found one convert — Dr. Joseph Lawrence.
Basing his work on Lister’s research, Lawrence developed an antibacterial liquid that was manufactured in one city. Some years later, around 1880, the product was named after Josph Lister, who had then become a well-known and controversial figure on two continents.
Interestingly, surgeons who began employing Lister’s ideas of good hygene were having fewer post-operative infections as well as increased survival rates. “Listerism” was being hotly debated in medical journals by competent doctors who were both “pro” and “against.” It was also being discussed in the popular media.
This antiseptic liquid, inspired by Lister and made accessible by Lawrence, came to be known as Listerine. So the next time you swirl some Listerine in your mouth, just remember that it came at the price of one man’s reputation. A man who was ridiculed, criticized, and dismissed by the professional medical community. But who . . . after many years, was vindicated.
Thank you Mr. Lister for not giving up your convictions. May your tribe increase!
A true Christian who follows Jesus is someone who pushes against the status quo. A Christian, therefore, is a revolutionary. So this story holds encouragement for all Jesus followers. Especially those who push against the “Christian” status quo.
I happen to be a fan of Listerine, cool mint flavor. And my close friends are happy about that.