Really Seeing – Uganda part 3

The clinic

The clinic

When it comes to rules I am an enigma, a perplexing mix of strict adherence and defiant rebellion. This is admittedly weird behavior and I’ve spent more than a few minutes trying to figure out why. Why do I conform without question to certain rules while going out of my way to deviate from others? The best conclusion I’ve come up with is this: it lies in the purpose of the rule – injustice vs. order. If rules are either part of crowd control or other forms of maintaining order, the administrative part of me acquiesces and I follow. But if rules hint at injustice I will go out of my way to buck the system.

Life is not cut and dried. You can’t always categorize complex circumstances into two simple columns. I know this can cause me to be perceived as fickle by some people. The ongoing commentary in my brain is always debating how certain circumstances should be handled; conform or rebel?

Wait your turn!“, “Don’t take what isn’t yours.”, and “tell the truth“; these rules are non-negotiable in my world. However, blatantly stupid and socially harmful mantras such as those of the past where women and non-land owning males were prohibited from voting, as well as the horrid images of “Whites Only” signs displayed on restroom doors, equally send livid impulses to my brain, causing me to see red.

When I first saw Ellya and Joseph walking toward the clinic I was immediately in mental turmoil. It was time for the clinic to close for lunch and we already had a large crowd waiting to be seen. I made a snap decision to have an interpreter tell Ellya that it might be better if he came back later.

People waiting

People waiting

Then I saw Joseph’s face.

Joseph

Joseph

The right side was so swollen that his eye was beginning to protrude. Taking a moment to look further I realized his entire face was misshapen. And in that nanosecond all the rules went flying out the window. I knew he needed to be seen immediately no matter what ‘rules’ I had set in place.

And that’s the lesson here. I can become so entrenched in my own rules that I fail to see what’s right in from of me. Thankfully, this time, I did the right thing. I stopped to evaluate and saw what was truly important.

But how many times have I failed?

How many times have I missed an opportunity to help, to show compassion, share, or to be kind?

In my attempt to be efficient and productive, what opportunities have I lost?

How uncaring have I appeared?

One of my favorite sayings is “We are human beings, not human doings.” The implication is that we spend so much time doing that we forget to be. We can get so wrapped up in the tyranny of the urgent that we lose sight of our purpose. We can overlook the needs of people right in front of us.

But when I take the time to see effectively, the hurt and the pain that’s in my path, I am gifted with a rare opportunity to make a real difference. It becomes an opportunity, for better or worse, in which I am presented with the choice to either do what my heart tells me is the right thing or to follow my head in towing the compulsory line. Without regret, I decide that comforting those who are hurting is infinitely more important than keeping a clinic on schedule.

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