Millions and millions of Americans suffer from some form of chronic illness. You may have one. Infertility, Chronic Back Pain, Diabetes, Arthritis, Migraines, FMS, Lupus, Clinical Depression...these are just a few. If you are one of the chronically ill you have probably had at least one experience where someone suggested that your predicament was your own fault.
Why has every one of us had this experience? Because it is human nature. By pretending that chronic illnesses come to those who deserve them (sinners, smokers, drinkers, the physically unfit, etc.) or can be healed if people just do what they are supposed to do (pray more, eat right, exercise) a healthy person can maintain the illusion that they will never be in the same unhappy predicament. It has the added appeal of minimizing the need for a compassionate personal response.
Because this is a matter of human nature and not mere ignorance it is a problem that is never going to go away. So how should we respond? Lisa Copen has some tips that I have found very useful in her excellent article, Why Can't I Make People Understand?