Why did you cry when you heard 47-year-old ugly-duckling Susan Boyle sing?
“Because it was surprising to hear a beautiful voice come from an ugly person.”
No. If “surprise” was all there was to it we’d laugh, we’d clap, we’d hold our chests in amazement, we’d be happy, we’d be heartened, but we wouldn’t cry. We’d look at each other with knowing smiles and say “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” and then we’d move on to the next contestant. Proof? You won’t cry at Hollie Steel.
“Because we realized we judged another human being unjustly; we felt guilty.”
No. If you prejudge someone as stupid because of a speech impediment, you do feel guilty, you do feel ashamed, but you don’t cry. You resolve to make up for it, you decide not to prejudge like that anymore, you feel reinvigorated to be a carrier of justice yourself, but you don’t cry.
“Because we realized a great talent had been wasted.”
No. Wasting talent is a shame but it doesn’t cause us to burst into tears three notes into a performance. We could be shocked, angered, saddened even, but the overwhelming and immediate reaction to weep wasn’t this thoughtful.
We cried for Susan Boyle’s entire life. The life we imposed on her.
For fifty years Susan was treated the way we all treated her — laughs, jeers, doubt, no one listening, no one caring, no one taking her seriously enough to give her another thought. Even before we learned she’s never been kissed, we knew, and we laughed at her anyway.
We laughed. Fifty years of struggling against this emotional battery. And we laughed.
Now comes the part where you change your life forever:
What would you have done if Susan Boyle couldn’t sing?
You would have laughed. She would have walked right off that stage and continued living that life until she died, and you wouldn’t have thought twice about it.
Is that Susan any less human?
How will you treat the next Susan you meet?