|(Author: Klaus D. Peter, Gummersbach, Germany)|
You might think that religion would help people to approach disfigurement with compassion. If so, you would often be disappointed.
The Torah, for example, declares that certain types of skin afflictions (Hebrew word: tzaraath) denote spiritual rather than medical impurities. The Talmud regards such disfiguring conditions as punishment for these types of sins: "gossip, murder, a vain oath, illicit sexual intercourse, pride, theft and miserly behavior." "Treatments" of these afflictions once
included the destruction of victims' homes and the banishment of sufferers from communities.
You might also think that such attitudes would never occur within modern times, but the following Chicago "ugly law" remained viable until 1974: No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or improper person to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places in this city, or shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view… In other words, if you're disfigured, keep yourself well hidden.
Histories such as these make it all the more refreshing to witness Pope Francis' recent physical embrace of a gentleman with numerous large and visible tumors. MSN Now reports that this man then "buried his head in the pope's chest."
The photo of this embrace has gone viral – and this is one "virus" that hopefully everyone will catch.
Copyright November 8, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved