The other day I watched the women of The View (one of my favourite talk shows in the world) stand in judgement over yet another human being.
This was a man whose wife had lost her memory due to a medical condition, and could not even remember her husband or her life. After years of coping with this considerable challenge alone, the man brought in another woman into the house to live with them, and help him and his wife cope with this great burden.
Since his wife wasn’t conscious of what was happening, they judged, the man was taking advantage of her.
Someone dear to me agreed with the criticism at the time. He should have stayed with the wife to the end, alone, without bringing another woman to their marital bed - she had said.
She was telling me that now, now that she had encountered an excruciating experience that she couldn’t have anticipated, one that has tested everything she thought she new about duty, about compassion, about reality.
“Now I understand,” she said. “He needed to do that to retain his grip on reality, so that he could continue to be there for his wife without losing his mind.“
It was the same thing I thought at the time, based on all I know about the research into diseases of the mind and the toll they take on everyone within sight.
And I remember thinking: “Suspend judgement, people, you can never know what a person needs in a situation until you have walked a mile in their shoes, for as long as they have.”
Don’t be quick to judge the choices of other people. Don’t be quick to tell them how to live their lives, based on your reality and not theirs.
Suspend judgement. Enter into empathy, enter into compassion, enter into humility.
Unless you have all the facts that the other person has, and unless you are dealing with the same pressures and burdens the other person has, you don’t know the full story.