On the ride home, I tuned into Fresh Air on NPR, featuring author Barbara Ehrenreich. Being the first time I have ever heard of her, I decided give a listen. However, her tone of speaking seemed, at least to my ears, to have a touch of arrogance and egotism. Even the questions Terry Gross asked were answered in a very ambivalent way. It was during Barbara’s pronouncement she was an atheist and a feminist, my ‘Judge Judy’ smacked the gavel and said, ‘Now, I get why her tone seems so high and mighty.’ Then the practical me swept in, with a reminder to keep an open mind as there could be a lesson to learn. So, I kept listening.
Barbara’s tone never did please my ears. But since she was coming through the airwaves and not ‘live,’ I tried to really understand her position by stuffing down my annoyance, my preconceived notions and my judgment. It was hard, to say the least. Not that I am against atheists. As a matter of fact, I read a book by an atheist about why he choose the belief system he did. It was a big help in realizing not all atheists are like the ones trying to take ‘God’ out of everything. Just like all Christians are not hate mongers when someone isn’t living by their standards. Anyway, let me step down from my soap box…
As the interview continued, Terry brought up the fact Barbara was a breast cancer survivor. She asked Barbara to talk about what she experienced during that time. What struck me most about the entire segment was this portion of the interview. My ears immediately perked up as Barbara explained why she does not refer to herself as a cancer survivor. She felt the word ‘survivor’ devalued those who were also diagnosed with cancer, stating “the ones who don’t survive may be just as brave, you know, just as courageous, wonderful people.”
Hearing her say that caused an ‘AHA’ moment. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer, I know the challenges I faced were minimal compared to others, especially those who not only endure surgery but also the ravages of chemotherapy and radiation. I understand these treatments nearly kill. Then just as death is creeping over the horizon, they very slowly breathe life back into a body so wounded, it is definitely a miracle when one pulls through. Yet, no matter the fight, the struggle or the conviction, many don’t make it. As Barbara also says, (and I am paraphrasing), “Just because there are those of us still here, doesn’t mean we have a ‘leg up on’ those who are gone.” I whole heartedly agree.
I am glad I did not switch stations, even though it was tough to stay open minded. I actually found a rather nice picture of Barbara.
I think, now I have a face to the voice, I need to go back and relisten or read the transcript. After all, those who think differently and have different views are the ones who teach us the most, not only about life, but also about ourselves. As a result, I am always ready for growth spurts, keeping the door to my heart and the windows of my mind wide open.
Thank you Barbara for enlightening me.