Something the Lord Has Made. Presentation of Ethical Challenges in the Film

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Something the Lord Has Made. Presentation of Ethical Challenges in the Film

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On a day to day basis, ethical dilemmas flood our everyday lives, forcing us to make challenging decisions regularly. Some decisions are easier than others, but there are quite a few that are challenging, “Something the Lord has Made” is an engaging film about a doctors quest to be the first person to perform a successful heart surgery. While the plot line appears simple, there are multiple ethical dilemmas hidden within the story. In an evaluation of the vast moral questions, I have limited it to two reoccurring themes that, to me, bring up the most challenges. First, the doctor makes clear steps that show he is planning on taking credit for any advances in the field despite his assistant’s unmeasurable help. Second, as many scientists in all fields do these days, there were multiple instances of tests being run on animals. With an extensive study of both these circumstances, we can learn a lot about the acceptable practices and mindset at the time period portrayed in the movie. While clearly different than the practices of today, there are eerily similar behaviors that should be discussed.

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A main issue and theme throughout the movie is this idea of interracial relationships. A doctor, who is white, relies heavily on his assistant, who is black. As I stated earlier, the main character question that comes into focus is why the doctor wants to take full credit for any discoveries while his assistant contributed equally, if not more, to the research and practice. I think there are two obvious answers to this question. First, in the setting of this movie, I would imagine it would be highly inappropriate for a man of the doctor’s social status to be seen mingling with a black man, let alone working with one. At the same time, however, the doctor is seen in “all white” or “all black” areas talking to his assistant, often raising eyebrows of his colleagues. Perhaps, then, it becomes more of a question of acceptance. In this setting, it seems clear that the assistant would not be readily welcomed in the medical society because of his race. Therefore, it would be a disgrace to the doctor and perhaps a disregard for the research if it was to be presented with a Negro man associated with it. I would speculate that this is more of the case. After observing the doctor’s behavior, it seems unlikely it was an egotistical problem – he seemed to be ready to give credit where credit was due. Here, he was protecting his assistant and the research.

Secondly, the testing of animals seems to be a ubiquitous problem found across industries. The medical field is no different. Throughout the film, while the doctor and assistant attempted tirelessly to develop a procedure to do open heart surgery, animals were constantly the test subjects. I understand that this method proves to be more ethical than testing on human subjects. Still, it seems like an unethical practice to work on horses, pigs, rats, and dogs without knowing if they will survive or not. Perhaps more funding needs to be placed in finding a better practice. Harming animals should not be the go to procedure.

As mentioned above, ethical challenges are found in every situation, the movie provided another avenue to see ethical dilemmas play out in a real life scenario. While both situations were not handled ideally, I still believe they were handled well. If the doctor’s intentions with taking the credit solely on him was to protect the validity of the research and protect his assistant, he made the right choice. Additionally, the intent on testing the animals was to save people, which also is a difficult, but perhaps necessary, ethical choice. Clearly it is not easy, but the movie demonstrated how to effectively make ethical decisions.

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