The Headline Nobody Wants

It was one of those rare mornings when I had time to read the two morning papers. A story caught my eye. It was about a doctor, arrested along with eight others, on conspiracy to sell oxycotin to teenagers.  After reading the second paragraph of the story, I had passed judgement on the doctor. In the fourth paragraph, I realized he had been my mother’s physician.

My first reaction: disbelief. Maybe it wasn’t him. He had the kind of name that would bring up at least 75 hits on Facebook.  But a call to my sister confirmed what I dreaded. It was who I thought it was.

What happened?   I knew him to be a good doctor.  He was kind, patient and understanding when it came to my mother’s care. When did he change? When did this highly educated, family-oriented, kind-to-the-elderly, sworn-to-do-no-harm person cross the line.  When did he sit with the others and decide to write bogus perscriptions? How did he rationalize selling drugs to kids?  Did he need money that badly? I had more questions than I have space in this blog, none of which had answers.

The price to be paid.  Aside from the real possibility of losing his medical license, being fined up to $1 million and spending 20 years in jail, there is a personal toll he must pay.  He must deal with shame and embarrassment. He betrayed the trust of others.  His fall from grace affects his family, his siblings, his parents, his friends and co-workers.  I can only imagine what his family is feeling as they learn details of a person they thought they knew.

The prayer.  I believe in cause and effect and therefore, I know there is some reason his behavior changed so radically. I have no idea what it is. I feel for the lives impacted by his bad decisions. They are all in my prayers as they cope with the emotional fallout from his arrest. They will remain in my prayers for more than a day because this will be a long, drawn-out chapter in the lives of the doctor and his family.

My judgement. My rush to judgement bothers me. In a flash, I felt sure I knew the kind of person who would sell drugs to kids. But, when I recognized his name, that judgement was suspended.  Suddenly, I felt he deserved the benefit of the doubt.  This has made me think about all the times I’ve jumped to conclusions about character and guilt.  This is something I need to work on.

Why is it easier to judge a stranger than a friend?

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6 Responses to The Headline Nobody Wants

  1. Adele McHugh says:

    How poignant! It is so easy to judge, especially if we don’t take a moment to imagine how this might have happened.
    Perhaps a drug addict found their way into his office and held a gun to him while he nervously scribbled a pad-full of oxycontin rx’s to be sold on the street…
    Perhaps he was convinced that the person had intractable pain and wrote that first rx out of compassion, only to find himself caught in the person’s dysfunction/addiction…
    Medical errors occur every day…health practitioners are human…no health practitioner intentionally causes harm to a patient. Offenses occur when one is distracted for a moment, working under extreme pressure, in danger, in fear, etc.
    Looking inside oneself to understand the tendency to judge is a healthy thing for each of us to do, praying for the person who has been involved in an offense or committed a crime, is healthier for all involved.
    If you have every been wrongly judged, wrongly accused, you can appreciate what a gift is the benefit of the doubt from those around you….
    The old addage, “do unto others as you would have done to you”…is a helpful reminder to “judge not lest ye not be judged…”

  2. Everyone makes mistakes, and we criticize most the people that make the same mistakes we make. We even jump out of category. We revile others that make moral mistakes because we have made other moral mistakes. Take the case of Casey Anthony. I can truthfully say that despite all the evidence, nobody knows for sure except her and possibly the Dad what went on. I also know, from personal experience, the kind of behavior that ensues in a dysfunctional family where abuse has taken place. It looks like one thing, but it is really something else.

    Rushing to judgment without conclusive facts, however is a sign of poor judgment. Making decisions and forming opinions about things when you don’t have all the facts is just plain stupid and I refuse to listen to people that do it.

    On the other hand, people DO make mistakes, often unintended, or under extreme pressure. Forgiveness is a virtue, for we all err, and everyone deserves a second chance on transgressions that are short of murder or grand theft.

    It is only those that willfully commit the same heinous acts repeatedly that we need to extricate from society.

    And you never know… they may be doing what they do from pressure by someone that will do harm to their family if they don’t do what the extortionist wants.

    Al good reasons to withhold judgment.

    I prefer to apply logic and conclusions based on facts, rather than try to judge an act as right or wrong. Moral indignation gets attached to judgments of right or wrong, and that gets personal, clouding true application of logic to facts.

    Based on the following passage, I do not believe there is a good ending for the judgmental.
    Do not judge so that you will not be judged” Matthew 7:1

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