Many years ago I read several books that were written by Thomas A. Dooley, M.D. I remember being very moved by them, and I have carried them in my thoughts over the years. Still, when I would really ponder WHY they left such an impression, or what I was meant to do with whatever I’d learned from them, I would come up empty, merely puzzled.
Tom Dooley was a U.S. Navy medical doctor who, in the 1950’s, treated hundreds of thousands of Laotians who were escaping the cruel rule of North Vietnamese communists and the torture that was often inflicted upon them. Amid all manner of hardships, this man extended humanity to men, women and children, with little thought or care for himself.
I just finished rereading Deliver Us from Evil, his first book. The Edge of Tomorrow, The Night They Burned the Mountain, and Before I Sleep are equally spellbinding.
I believe the books are out of print now, and must be hunted down, but they are well worth the read if you can locate them. Having never had in my life a person I would have considered a mentor following my father’s death, I think now that these books may have served to instill some of the seeds of inspiration that a warm body might otherwise have done. Now, years later, I realize that I am drawn to people who exhibit similar qualities – selflessness, compassion, and perseverance.
Doug Tjapkes, founder of Humanity for Prisoners, an advocacy organization in Michigan, is one of these people. He wrote a book called Sweet Freedom. In it he tells of his friendship with Maurice Carter who spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit – another fascinating read.
A description of inspirational books that were written from prison can be found in the article entitled “Top 10 Books Written Behind Bars (http://criminaljusticedegreesguide.com/features/top-10-books-written-behind-bars.html).
Whether the stories are about disease-ridden, tortured masses escaping to freedom, the development of a powerful friendship with a man wrongly accused, or the personal hell of hate and anger in which too many of us find our souls imprisoned, well-told stories can often be the key to unlocking the treasures of selflessness, compassion, and perseverance. They may lead to journeys beyond that which you had ever imagined.