The other night while driving through my neighborhood, I saw an old man, perhaps in his late 60s, getting into his car. He drove a dark green sedan, and on the roof of the car was a dimly lit “Papa John’s” sign. My first feeling was sadness as I wondered why this man had to deliver pizzas. Perhaps he was just laid off by the company he dedicated many years to, and in this rough economic period, pizza delivery was the only choice. Or perhaps he had retired last year only to discover that his pension is not enough to sustain him and his family. But then I realized, how can I make assumptions about this man’s circumstances? And who am I to pass judgment on the pizza delivery job as a “last resort” opportunity? I have no idea what this man’s story is, whether he drives that green sedan for extra income or for his own desire to spend his free time anywhere but in front of the TV.
People have their own stories, their reasons for what they do and who they are. There’s probably a reason why this one woman I know has been divorced at least twice, why that one boy at school always wears a super-long scarf, or why that beautiful girl everyone is jealous of thinks so poorly of herself. And from last week’s episode of Glee, we see that there is a reason why Tina stutters and why Sue would accept a girl with Down’s Syndrome onto the Cheerios (and perhaps a glimpse at why Sue is so negative and emotionally destructive).
Sure, things make a lot of sense when you hear the whole story, and that makes me curious about the big picture. But the bigger question here: should you treat others differently once you see the big picture? We might pity the boy with the scarf rather than consider him odd when the scarf transforms from a symbol of eccentricity to a memento of a lost loved one. Or maybe we deny Papa John compassion upon the discovery that his delivery job is an excuse to get out of the house and away from the family. Or we go from hating Glee villain Sue Sylvester to feeling sympathetic toward her. I guess what I’m really asking is this: If we loved others as we were called to love, why should circumstances change the way we view and treat other people?
*Sorry for not including quotes, as I normally do with my Glee posts. Having a job and being in the real world makes it harder to watch each episode at least twice, like I used to do.