Here’s a shocking story: Last week, a group of people wearing masks strapped a woman down on a table, knocked her out, and with a sharp knife they slit her neck!
The group of people, of course, consisted of a surgeon, anesthetist, and various nurses. The woman was me, and the “slit in the neck” was a thyroidectomy.
I once wondered what aliens would think if they came to Earth and saw the scene described above. Would they get the idea that I was being harmed, with all those people bending over me with knives? I thought that was kind of ironic - someone from another planet might have tried to rescue me, when in reality, the people were helping me, not hurting me. The aliens just wouldn’t have had the whole picture, and would have jumped to the wrong conclusion.
I frequently think of that Bible verse, “now we see through a glass darkly.” This is why we really can’t judge others, because we can’t ever have the whole picture of someone’s life. We don’t know what their upbringing was, if they were lucky enough to have a strong family unit, as we may have had. We don’t know the obstacles they had to overcome, the peer pressures they encountered, the abuse they suffered, the hopelessness with which they were burdened. We don’t know if they had lousy teachers or a learning disability. We don’t know if they are genetically predisposed to addiction. We don’t know, and even if we think we know people well, we cannot know them well enough to be able to pass judgment. Our focus is too small, our fund of knowledge is too limited.
Every time I transcribe a report of a pregnant woman taking illegal drugs or a patient with severe lung disease who still insists on smoking, my tendency is to shake my head at their choices. I must try to remember that I don’t have the whole picture. I’ve been very blessed in my life, and many, many others have had struggle after struggle, for whatever reasons not known to me. Empathy, yes. Judgment? I’ll think I’ll pass.