Far too many times I've talked with people who have burns and share how difficult it is for them to find the strength to move on with their lives. This has been on my mind as a friend of mine in this situation recently died, unable to cope with the reality of being stared at in public all the time. And, of course, there was the photo of Pope Francis kissing a man with a disfigurement this week, which was hailed as an act of compassion. I would go even further and say that it is a sad state of affairs that such an act is so out of the ordinary, that fear propels us to shun others based on appearance, to treat others as "less than".
How sad to lose even one life, not to mention the lost opportunities for people to participate fully in our society, because of dangerous assumptions and judgments. Not only does this mean having compassion for others, but recognizing that everyone is an equal human being. We are not doing people a favor by including them, but acknowledging their rightful place in society by including them.
This article about a Marine in his 20's who has been through this came to my attention this morning and I wanted to share it with my readers. Anthony Villarreal speaks eloquently of his experience after his injuries - waking up and not recognizing himself,having to relearn to do everything due to amputations of his arm and fingers, and worrying about his wife leaving him.
"Because a lot of people, they don't want to be seen with someone that was ugly. What was it, like 70-plus surgeries, skin grafts? I really didn't want to leave the house. I just thought to myself, man, people don't know how to ask questions. They just want to stare and point."
Today Anthony and his wife attend college together. I wish them well. And I hope this article and his words reach people so fewer make it unnecessarily difficult by pointing and staring and treating those with scars and disfigurements as less than human.