If it weren’t for Nathan Straus, you might be dead.»
One evening Mr. Straus, a wealthy department store owner in New York, was watching his cow being milked. Suddenly it made a strange noise. «Just a cough, sir,» the hired hand stated. «This cow’s got tuberculosis.»
«Tuberculosis?» Straus gasped. «My children drink its milk!»
«Not to worry,» said the worker. «Cows don’t pass the deadly disease on to those who drink their milk. All the doctors say so.»
But Straus wasn’t convinced. One in three children died before the age of five in New York, usually of tuberculosis. He’d heard of a Frenchman named Louis Pasteur who advocated heating milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit for about a half hour. Pasteur claimed it would kill all germs in any liquid. «I’m going to run a test using my own money,» announced Mr. Straus. «I’ll give two thousand children heat-treated milk and see if they stay healthier than those who don’t drink treated milk.»
Many opposed his test. «It’s bad for business,» wailed the milk producers. «He’s playing doctor with our children,» complained the medical profession. One physician even had Straus arrested!
Of the two thousand children who drank Mr. Straus’s treated milk, only six died in eight months. If they’d been drinking untreated milk, 890 would have perished in that same period.
When people heard the facts of the test, they began demanding «pasteurized» milk for their families. Governments passed laws and imposed fines, and babies grew up instead of dying.
When you believe in something, stick to it, even if others disagree. The life you save may be your own.