One Nurse’s CompassionSeveral people have asked me why I have not yet addressed the ignorant remarks made toward nurses by Michelle Collins and Joy Behar on The View recently. Well, for one thing I hate to give publicity to unbridled stupidity.

But as one of the leaders of the burgeoning nurse-writer community, my job is to empower nurses to pick up the pen. In that spirit I felt I should take a moment away from my usual duties of writing about healthcare to tell my readers how I feel about The View brouhaha.

Michelle Collins and Joy Behar are under fire from the nursing community, and for good reason. Whoopi Goldberg may scold nurses for “not paying attention” and “not listening” to hear what was really said in the segment where Ms. Collins and Ms. Behar mocked Miss Colorado’s moving monologue about being a nurse, but we all heard what they said. However, what we heard was not only disrespect for nurses but disrespect for women, in general. That is the real crux of the matter.

Why did Michelle Collins, Joy Behar and the producers of The View feel it necessary to attack certain Miss America contestants? Is it because they take a dim view of beauty pageants? I haven’t heard an answer to that question, so I won’t speculate. In the final analysis it really doesn’t matter why Michelle Collins and Joy Behar said unkind things about some of the beauty pageant contestants: Women attacking women is unacceptable and needs to stop.

If you think I’m angry with the co-hosts of The View, you’re right. I am. Not only as a nurse, but as a woman.

However, I have nothing but compassion for Ms. Collins, Ms. Behar, Ms. Goldberg and the others. They may feel they can sit in judgment of beauty pageant contestants, nurses and anyone else whose viewpoints don’t align with their own, but luckily for them nurses do not feel that way. Every day nurses provide compassionate care for people whose beliefs and actions may not align with the nurse’s own. We don’t judge our patients; we care for them regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, politics or anything else.

Nurses know one simple truth: If we can claim a shred of nobility in our profession, that nobility derives not from exhibiting compassion toward the most worthy but from showing kindness to the least worthy.

It’s easy to show compassion to the pediatric cancer patient and his family, to the confused Alzheimer’s patient, to the woman who lost a limb to a drunk driver.

It’s harder to show compassion to the 19-year-old gang member waking up to the horror of a colostomy because his rival emptied 10 slugs into his belly, to the guy who got stupid-drunk at a Fourth of July party in the mountains and fell face-down into the campfire resulting in third-degree burns to his face and hands, to the socialite throwing a tantrum in the plastic surgeon’s waiting room because her BOTOX™ didn’t work the way she expected, while the breast cancer reconstruction patient sitting patiently next to her clenches her jaw in pain and doesn’t complain for an instant.

Nurses show compassion and empathy every day to those who may not deserve it. And that is why I extend compassion to Michelle Collins, Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg now. I cannot know the inner journey they have traveled that prompts them to feel they are justified in demeaning other women. So I will not judge them. Instead I will hope they can look inside themselves and find some empathy there for the Miss America pageant contestants and for all their outraged viewers. Maybe if they did that they would be able to celebrate women for all their accomplishments and contributions instead of only the ones they deem worthy of celebration.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful change of pace?