“My hands, they’re strong
But my knees were far too weak,
To stand in your arms
Without falling to your feet” – Adele (Set Fire to the Rain)
I am called to treat life residents of one of our local prisons on some occasions. Many friends and colleagues will ask how I am able to provide care for such despicable people who are convicted murderers, rapists, and thieves. “How can you treat them when you know what they have done?”, I am asked. My answer is always the same and that is because they are human beings who need my help in some way.
I have learned to forgive the acts of my fellow humans as I go through life. I cannot hurt or punish another person for their acts because I see the wonder of God’s presence in all. In my case, I have committed acts or said words out of hurt or anger. I have not done actions that I should have done on later examination. I ask for forgiveness from God in my actions, in my confessions thus, why would I not do the same for others?
In my daily meditations, I try to reflect on how I have treated those who come into my care and under my instruction. Sometimes I am proud of my students and their accomplishments but that pride is not because I am a great teacher but because they work hard to become competent physicians and physician assistants. I want to be an instrument of God’s work to give my best to my patients and students.
In terms of my incarcerated patients, I treat them as fellow human beings even if and often they do not treat me as the same. I walk, talk and behave in a manner that is based on my experience at the time as all humans likely behave. If I don’t have the same experience as my incarcerated patients, how can I judge them or treat them as less than human? I don’t have to love their behavior or acts but I do have to love them as my brothers and sisters in life. In short, if I can relieve any small part of suffering, then I can be the instrument that I seek to become.