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06 January 2013


Yesterday I went to a memorial service for the son of a former professor from IIT. His son was twenty years old and had brain cancer on and off for roughly four years. The whole event was very beautiful. The speeches were truly excellent. From what I gather, I did not know him, he was much loved, very intelligent, inquisitive, and in general just the type of person this sort of thing happens to - a good soul.

I saw a former classmate there that was a year ahead of me. I had heard at some point that he himself had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, that turned our to be malignant, since leaving school. His Facebook profile picture for a bit was a photo of him with a rather large incision that went from above his left ear to the middle of his crown. He had his last radiation treatment a week ago. I can only imagine the poignancy of the event from his perspective.

My friend told me how he had pounding headaches but because of a mix-up with his and his wife's insurance through her university they were unable to get healthcare for a time, so he waited to get professional help. When he finally had coverage he went and got a check-up and discovered the news. On one level I was saddened and on another it infuriated me. What is the point of modernity if not to prevent such situations? We give up much for it. No sane person honestly wants to work in office buildings and grow weak for lack of exercise. If we cannot at least provide this comfort then why bother at all?

When I was in high school my mother was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. The insurance company moved out of the state, as they were legally allowed to every seven years, and dropped coverage for her. Our laws, at the time and for a short while longer, do not prohibit insurance companies from discriminating based on previous ailments. What sane person would wish this upon anyone? And yet it's a reality of the society that we have created.

Perspective is perhaps the most fleeting of all human experience. Nearly the moment we are released from a profound occasion our mind travels elsewhere... "how am I getting home, man; I'm hungry, I wonder if I can get those shoes in black..." The transition in your mind often goes completely unnoticed. I try often to keep perspective: how lucky I am, what I want to achieve, the burdens of the average person I do not have to deal with, but it's a constant effort. Our world is increasingly becoming a comfortable place for a person of moderate means; more so than at any point in history really. At the same time, the tools to effect change are nearly ubiquitous at this point. I encourage you to take advantage of them.

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