Commentary by Joyce Coronel
Having dental work done is one of those situations where most of us are thankful to be able to receive the care but don’t exactly relish the actual process. I was driving back to the office last week after the dentist replaced a couple of old fillings, no doubt first incurred during the candy-rich childhood I thoroughly enjoyed growing up in the 1970s.
If you are one of my contemporaries, you no doubt recall when candy bars cost 15 cents. Those were the glorious days when our mothers kept a sugar bowl on the table so we could spoon more of the stuff on our cereal.
Decades later, I still have the evidence of Almond Joy and Butterfinger bonanzas, especially those of the post-Halloween variety.
One of Wrangler’s loyal advertisers, Tempe Smile Design, actually sponsors a candy buy-back each year following Halloween, a tactic we know may help prevent dental woes such as mine later on.
After my recent visit to the dentist, the right side of my mouth was numb for a couple of hours.
As I made my way back to the Wrangler News office, it occurred to me that I was the only one who would know of the numbness—it was absolutely invisible to everyone around me.
Sure, normal feeling would return eventually, but in the meantime, it was hidden from everyone but me.
And that made me think: How many people we come in contact with every day are carrying hidden wounds and burdens? Are we so busy judging that we’re blind to the suffering of our fellow humans? Do we add to their cares or are we the kind of person who brings peace and light to others?
Later that day, as I was still pondering those weighty questions, I came across a Facebook post. Stephanie, a Chandler woman, found a nasty note on her windshield from someone who didn’t see what was really going on—someone who judged her and had NO IDEA what the facts were.
She had parked in a handicapped space and the handicapped placard was clearly displayed dangling from her rearview mirror.
A fellow motorist observed Stephanie though and made a snap—and incorrect—judgment.
The venomous note accused Stephanie of being a “selfish” and “lazy” person who should be grateful the note writer didn’t vandalize her car.
But the author of the mean-spirited missive was blinded by anger and drew the wrong conclusion. He or she didn’t see Stephanie’s beautiful daughter.
“I may not look handicapped because I’m not,” Stephanie wrote in her Facebook post.
“My 12-year-old, Lucy, has cerebral palsy and it was all she could manage to walk from our very close parking spot to the entrance where I hoisted her 85-pound body into a cart for the rest of our shopping trip.”
There were more than 600 comments that sprang up overnight, each expressing support for Stephanie or lamenting the cruelty expressed in the anonymous note.
The story that played out right here in our community is a good reminder that we can never really know the hidden pain others are bearing.
Let’s resolve to help lighten those loads rather than adding to them.
Ponder and practice the words of the founder of one of the world’s notable religions: “Stop judging that you may not be judged.”
The next time you’re tempted to make a snap judgment, think of Stephanie and Lucy.
If your mouth needs something to do, try a piece of candy.
A little sweetness might not pay off at the dentist but it could stop you from saying or writing words that leave lingering wounds.
Joyce Coronel is editor of Wrangler News.