I am not an animal, I am a human being. -John Merrick, The Elephant Man
How can people be so cruel I ask repeatedly? We see painful evidence of this displayed publicly. It breaks my heart when I see people, especially kids who are unjustly trolled struggle with these crass attacks. When I watched the movie, The Elephant Man after its release, I am reminded of the myriad of emotions about how I felt as I looked at it. I was mad, sad, and infuriated with his attackers but yet, comforted by John Merrick’s heart. It was typical that when a fair or circus came to town, they had to have something or someone so extreme looking to us that people used the term, Freak Show.
In this movie, John Merrick was afflicted with a congenital disorder known as Proteus Syndrome (elephant man syndrome). As you know, people taunted, teased, and humiliated John due to his disfigurement. Yet, when Dr. Frederic Treves discovers him in a sideshow, he brings Merrick into his home and finds that his appearance does not mirror his refined soul and heart. Typically, individuals who experience such horrifying treatment usually have a kind heart and humble demeanor.
Earlier last week, I wrote a brief message, Under Cover, about not judging people by how they look. This movie (a period piece) depicts one of the perfect examples of such judgment. I often find that when people are bullied, ridiculed, and trashed based on unwarranted circumstances that they could not prevent or control, I want those instigators to get a good taste of their own medicine. Sometimes I feel that the venom spewed out of people’s mouths with the intent to attack someone’s mind, spirit, or body needs to be poured back on top of them as soon as possible. Eventually, they do. Those who taunt, judge, and defame, get a lesson in “payback,” but it may not be as easy a lesson as their perverted actions, and it may come from someone who wields a lot more power and influence than them.
I honestly hate to see people mistreated or threatened in any way, just for the hell of it. Empathy and compassion are not complex equations to implement. Why don’t we see and experience more of these elements than seeing other bad behaviors activated? Choices!