A guest blog entry by Kevin Ballantine (student, leukemia survivor/patient, world citizen)
Reprinted with permission by author from http://kballantine.wordpress.com/
Preface: I had a bone marrow biopsy over spring break that showed a few abnormal cells in my bone marrow. It could have been lab error, so I flew home in late April to have a repeat procedure. This one was much more clear – the leukemia was back. We explored a few different options, including going straight into induction chemo and then to a transplant, or trying a new drug called Azacitidine (followed by a donor lymphocyte infusion). Unfortunately, we could only proceed to the DLI if the Azacitidine worked, and brought the leukemia cells under control. After two cycles, all indications were that it wasn’t working. On to plan B – the induction chemo and transplant. I’m currently at Kishwaukee Hospital, which I’ve written about before, and will be transferring to Mitchell Hospital at University of Chicago tomorrow. I’ve already had the chemo, but we want to be on the safe side when it comes to possible infections and side effects associated with chemo (and go to a hospital that has staff on call 24/7 for any possible emergencies).
From the beginning, and especially more recently while breaking the recent news to friends, I’ve heard the same question repeated over and over. At first I didn’t really know how to answer, but then I thought harder about what I can make out of this situation.
“Is there anything I can do for you?”
At first, I simply said thanks, but I can’t think of anything. But then I came up with a different, slightly longer answer.
Remember that life is fleeting, and there are more important things than grudges or ill wishes. Underneath our different skin colors, yarmulkes, head scarves, or crucifix necklaces, we’re still the same people. We still want the same thing – for people to be nice to us. All I ask of those who want to help me is this – treat your strangers as you would your best friends. For all those who persecute others in the name of Jesus – remember what Jesus himself did. He went out of his way to help those society refused to accept. And remember – let he who is without sin cast the first stone. For all those who instill terror in others in the name of Allah – I find it hard to believe that your path to paradise is paved with the bones of innocent non-believers. If yours is truly the right path, let the rest of us rot in hell for eternity. But in the meantime, let us improve the lives of others here on this Earth, because if we don’t then what kind of world are we leaving behind for those you hope to convert? Do you really want to convert those who believe only in violence instead of helping the poor and needy of the world?
We are all forced to share the same planet it, like it or not. And we are ALL responsible for that planet, for the sake of ourselves and our children. Here we sit bickering about things like illegal aliens flowing into our country (and let’s face it – how many of us really want to do all those minimum-wage jobs that they fill?), while we have to spend more and more money cleaning up all these environmental disasters. Some, like the BP spill, are caused by our infatuation with money (I hesitate to call it love, because that implies a healthy relationship, which this clearly is not). Others, like Katrina, flooding across the US, more severe weather, and heat waves that drive up electrical bills, are most likely the result of our failure to pay any attention to “climate change”. [I hesitate to call it global warming, because while overall the planet may be warming, its effects are less than warm in some places like DC, which received over 5 feet of snow in one month].
And then there’s the war(s). We have pumped over 1 TRILLION dollars into fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past 10 years, and to what end? Democracy is a noble cause, but in reality I believe it’s more about egos. We were insulted and must fight back. And now that we’re in a war, we can’t back out until we win. But we can’t always be the world police, and we must remember that. The world civilization survived for thousands of years without the United States acting as the highest authority, and I’m pretty sure that it can continue to do so. If we’re asked for help, sure we can respond. But we don’t need to save every country that is oppressing its people. And if we took that $1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) and pumped it back into the economy (or maybe something like MEDICAL RESEARCH), we might actually get some return on it (instead of access to oil that we need to be weaned off of anyway).
So if you want to do something for me, here’s what you can do. Be nice to those you encounter, don’t hold grudges, and please – hold your government accountable. Get involved, make your voice heard. Don’t just let these egotistical people trample on your wants, needs, and beliefs simply because they want to remain in office (but before you voice your beliefs, be sure about why you believe them – don’t just believe something because you’re told to, research it yourself and come to your own conclusions. Independent thought is the backbone of an intelligent society, and is what separates us from the mob mentality).
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” – Thomas Jefferson