Here is a quick story that demonstrates how pain impacts my treatment of other people: A couple of days ago I was in the grocery store getting the last couple of items on a massive multi-page grocery list. My knee, which has been damaged so badly it needs to be replaced, was making me limp, and that in turn was aggravating a back injury.

A youngish man I had never met walked up to me and said, “Wow, a woman using a grocery list. How can I train my wife to use one?”  In a pleasant tone of voice I asked if he liked his wife’s cooking, if she was in the store with him, and I even checked twice to be sure that he really wanted to “train” her. Finally I told him, “I think I can fix you up.”

When we got to where his wife was, he introduced me saying that I had expressed willingness to help him train her to use a list. I said, “No, what I said was that I would ‘fix you up.’ And that is what I am going to do.” Then I looked his wife in the eye and said, “You are not a puppy. You are an adult human being and no one gets to ‘train’ you. Now, I don’t know you or your husband, but if he is willing to approach strange women for help in getting his wife to comply, I suspect he might be a touch controlling. Here is the number of the local crisis center that can get you into a battered women’s shelter.” The man almost turned purple and yelled so loudly that store security came, and the poor woman started to cry. Now had I been in my right mind, I would have considered how a person who wants to ‘train’ his or her spouse might respond to being publicly shamed and how it might have endangered the spouse.

The moral of this story is that pain and good judgment are directly and inversely related. As pain increases, your judgment gets worse. It happens to everyone with the possible exception of saints. So pain control is not something that we do for ourselves. It is something we do to protect others. 


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