This is part 3 in the series: RESILIENCE
Adversity makes us strong
How many of you know about the history of vaccinations? Do you know that smallpox vaccination came from…cows? Well, not cows exactly, though our bovine friends played a big part.
…smallpox, it’s like chicken pox times a hundred and it will kill you.
You see, there were certain groups of people who were remarkably immune from smallpox. If you know anything about smallpox, it’s like chicken pox times a hundred and it will kill you. The two groups of people who were remarkably immune from smallpox were (1) the little girls who were milkmaids and (2) the little boys who were cowherds. That is, children who milked cows and children who led them around.
Why do you suppose that is?
It’s because milkmaids and cowherds had usually already caught a disease from the cows – in the form of something called “cowpox”.
Edward Teller, a physician from the time, noticed this pattern. So he pulled out a little bit of puss from some dying person’s smallpox sore and injected a kid named James Phipps who had already been exposed to cowpox to see what would happen.
(My question is this: What were Mr. and Mrs. Phipps thinking? Want to sign up your kid?)
And what did happen? Little Jimmy Phipps didn’t get smallpox. What Teller had discovered was that the disease (cowpox) caused immunity against something worse (smallpox). None of us wants to get sick.
None of us wants to have adversity, but it is adversity that makes us strong.