“O you people who believe! Stand firmly for Allah to give witness that justice was done. And do not launch an attack by incriminating any group of people; it must not be that you lean towards one (group) in doing justice. Be just, this is nearer to taqwa (abiding with Allah’s laws). And fear Allah.”
Surah Al-Maida (Surah 5), verse 8
People love to talk. Love to argue. Love to pass judgments. Some like to generalize… so it’s quite often that one hears, “Oh, he’s a Sindhi,”; “Oh they’re all like that,”; “Oh doctors ARE so greedy,” and the list can be pretty much endless. Why should a group of people suffer the blame when one selfish person decides to manifest his uber-disgusting ways? But we do that. We do it all the time! There’s news about one malpractice and the whole community of doctors is bombarded with suspicion. Zardari becomes president and the whole of Balochi and Sindhi communities are sweeped under this one umbrella of people nobody wants to interact with. We’re all fools that way. We think we’ve learned to treat people as individuals, then we meet the same situation, same type of person and we fall back into that easy trap of generalizing… till we decide that the generalizations are, in fact, legitimate. Aaah shaitaan works so cleverly, gotta give that to him.
As for handing out justice when it’s due… that’s a tough one. A lot of factors come into play (but the idea is to be honest with what one’s doing, even if later, one realizes it was the wrong decision).
This one time I was taking history from a patient, an emaciated, nervous little thing who patiently answered questions that dated back to a time I felt awfully awful about. It was a long history and there was a Hepatitis C marker above her head… Her sister was sitting besides her, helping me quite a bit, in the details of her history, which was making the patient weep in worry/ concern. The attendant insisted that my patient had no liver problems, that it was a transient infection that had resolved, that the doctors told her she just has her incisional hernia to worry about. I, being näive (read: a bit stupid), was going to retort until her monologue grew longer than 60 seconds and it hit me, the patient was being lied to, for lack of a better word about her state.
I am the kind of person who loves handing out truth, because I have (delusional) thoughts about helping people improve themselves upon hearing their flaws. In an honest way. But a nice one at that.
So, I thought, “Okay so my patient is being clearly lied to and it’s not something that’d be correct in my utopia,” but then there was the obvious fact of patients doing better with placebos. This patient’s placebo was the information being held, being told that she was doing well, she was on her way to recovery if she could hang on, for a bit more.
While all this happened, my patient got the hint and she looked into my eyes and asked me if she still had the infection… and I said what her sister said, in a roundabout manner. We spent the next 10 minutes bonding and consoling the patient, all three of us having group therapies of different sorts.
There are so many other times when things like these happen… when somebody confides in you for a vent out session that unfortunately involves backbiting and blame games, maybe a pepper of derogatory terms too, it gets really odd because in your attempt to make your friend feel better you usually end up saying something that solidifies his/ her hatred/ dislike for whoever it was a session about OR you end up sharing a story about somebody you disliked who did something similar… But you see, that is right when shaitaan has jumped into the conversation and made wrong look / feel right.
The trick is to say things in a manner that doesn’t reveal the bad in the people being confided about, while at the same time helping your friend work his/ her way around the topic such that s/he isn’t being unnecessarily unjust and/ or imperceptible. If and when, I’m able to reach that point, I’ll pat myself in the back and smile about following the command in this verse.
In the meanwhile, I’ll just pray that I not be a witness to things that’ll need my comment. Hehe.