I believe that the institution is one of the favorite embodiments for the principalities and powers. I've seen it here in the hospital like I've seen it in the church as well as other institutions we all are in contact with, such as the Government, the Post Office, Banks, Education, Law, the Family, the Army, etc...
Although most institutions would say, "We are here for you!", this isn't necessarily true. Although this might be their stated reason for existence, this often isn't their operating or presenting reason for existence. The Post Office's purpose is to deliver mail to our citizens. But you get the impression that the real reason they exist is to provide employment, benefits and protection for it's employees. But even then, the employees and their unions have the impression that the real reason for the Post Office is to provide wealth, comfort and security for the company and its owners. The same applies to the Army. Sometimes you wonder if it is not to secure peace and security in its own land, but to provide employment, to create new sources of income, and to generate and secure wealth and natural resources to entrepreneurs, contractors and the government in its own homeland. And if you've ever appealed to the government branch of Employment Services or needed to talk to a social worker, you know the frustration of trying to receive help from a completely adversarial system. And everyone knows that in almost every country the Immigration Department is almost always adversarial.
The hospital's stated purpose is to heal people. But the impression some patients and their families get is that the real reason for the health system to exist is to provide employment, benefits and protection for its employees. This is why many people feel like they are intruding when they complain of their maladies. The very tangible misuse of power is obvious. The patient is afraid to bother the nurse. The nurse is afraid to bother the doctor. And the doctor is afraid to bother the specialist. This way everyone is kept in their place and the system remains unchallenged. No one would admit to this, except maybe patient to patient, nurse to nurse, doctor to doctor. (Please: I am aware that it is not always this way, but my recent experience, as well as the experiences of some of those I know, including those employed in the system, have this impression.) The specialists would die if the general physicians admitted they felt inferior to them and were afraid to disturb them with what might be ignorant, impertinent, or unrelated information about a patient. The GP doesn't want to expose his or her lack of expertise. The GPs would die if they learned that the nurses were afraid to disturb them with their questions or with their opinions about a patient. But this has been well tested and documented and doctors should know this. In an experiment with doctors and nurses, a "doctor" was brought in on a patient who told the nurses, 25 of them, to administer a lethal dose of a certain drug. Even though all the nurses knew the dose was lethal, 24 out of 25 of them were about to administer the dose before they were prevented. Only one challenged the doctor. She deserves a medal because she wasn't just challenging the doctor, but the entire medical system! And the nurses would perish if they knew that the patient was afraid to ask them a question or utter a concern. I think most nurses have compassion and want to serve and cure the patient. But the entire system aggravates that simple and perfect plan. The problem is that the patient isn't just challenging the nurse, but challenging the inaccessible specialist indirectly because the patient is afraid of challenging the nurse who is afraid of challenging the doctor who is afraid of challenging the specialist. No one dares believe this to be true because it would offend their consciences and vocational sensibilities that they are working for and tending to the system's comfort and longevity, not that of the patient's. And let's not even get into pharmaceuticals!
I observe these things happening in other institutions because they all apply to the institution I find myself within: the Church. I lump the Church in with all other institutions. All those I know who work for the church do so for noble reasons. Well, almost. We are here for you! But the system has an overwhelming power that seems to dictate our actions. A friend of mine visited a young pastor in Turkey. The pastor pleaded with him to provide wisdom on how to truly fulfill his vocation within the system that seemed to oppose the very reason for its existence. My friend had no answers to satisfy him. A year later my friend got a letter from the pastor that he had switched to the Anglican church. He figured that if he was going to serve the system, it might as well be one with a long history and some kind of respectable tradition. I know this problem intimately. When Lenin said that religion is the opiate of the people, I know exactly and intimately what he means. Religion, when possessed by the principalities and powers, has the ability to keep people in their place to serve and support itself. We become the slaves of Egypt making bricks without straw.
Yesterday I tried to find the pastoral care office in the hospital. I couldn't find it anywhere. I asked other staff. No one knew. Then one staff person thought they saw a spiritual care sign near the entrance. I went and found the door. I tried to open it but it was locked from the other side. There was a key pass security lock nearby, but I had no idea what to do. I went and found a staff person nearby and asked what I should do. "Knock, I guess." So I went back to the door and knocked. No answer. Mystery! I took a couple of pictures while people stared at me. What was I taking a picture of? Exactly! I didn't know. I somehow figured that on the other side of that door was something or someone who had access to something or someone spiritual. I don't know. I still don't. I don't have the magic key. How does one acquire this magic key? Or is there a secret entrance somewhere else? This was the "main door". Was there a secondary door? I couldn't find it. I kid you not: I walked around the perimeter of where this office should be. But according to my guesstimate, it must be the size of a closet. So I went to the chapel and sat there a while and waited. No one around there knew about a person, if there even was one, connected with this shrine. Here is another example how this spiritual system that should be about helping others in time of need is more about serving itself. It is self-interested and self-protective, safe and secure within its own confines, inaccessible to everyone except those with a pass and locked to those who want or need in. I still haven't seen anyone connected to this spiritual door. Some might argue that this typifies the medical system's lack of respect for all things spiritual. But I would argue that this further typifies the competition between the principalities and powers for the bodies and souls of people to oppress and possess.
Please understand... I am not bashing nurses or doctors, pastors or churches, or even institutions for that matter. I have friends in all of these fields, and I myself am one of these within one of these institutions. In fact, I deeply believe that as people we need to be constantly called to freedom, dignity and courage to resist the powers that would enslave us. And we need to challenge with the same zeal as an Old Testament prophet the institutions to humble themselves and obey the truth, to deal justly, to respect human dignity, and to serve us well.