Sisters and brothers

by Michael Ketterhagen

Sisters and brothers, brothers and sisters Ain't we, everyone Brothers and sisters, sisters and brothers Every father's daughter, every mother's son Brothers and sisters, sisters and brothers Each and every one Sisters and brothers, brothers and sisters Every mother's daughter, every father's son Ain't we lucky, everybody Bein' everybody's brother Ain't we lucky, everybody Lookin' out for one another Ain't we happy, everybody Bein' everybody's sister Ain't we happy, everybody Lookin' out for Mister Mister

--Stephen Lawrence and Bruce Hart from “Free To Be…You and Me”

When I first entered the 2nd Floor Cancer Center Lab at 7:30 am last week, I was amazed at the number of people who were there and the number of people coming and going from the this 30x60 yard waiting room. I was struck that they were all there for the same reason. All of us were here because of cancer. All of us—older men and women in wheel chairs, the spry young physicians and nurses passing through, the receptionists who checked us in, beloved caretakers for many, black young men and women, a white teenager, a married couple who seemed well-stationed in life, the CNAs pushing those in wheel chairs in and out of the elevator, and Mary and I—we were all (about 45 at one point) there because cancer brought us there.

I began to realize my unity with all of them. My thinking began to move from me observing them to me experiencing myself as one with them—or rather the unity and solidarity of us humans. We were ONE!

In my contemplation my mind moved back and forth from this experience of Unity to the physical reality of our diversity. We had different colored skins. We had different amounts of hair on our heads. We were different ages, different sexes, different abilities at managing our movement from place to place, etc. Yet, we were all one, not just that we were spiritual beings/souls as Yoga, or Christianity, or others religions say but that we were physically united as well.

We were one because our common friend—cancer.

I was one with each and every one of them and they were one with me. And then an immense feeling of love and respect flooded my mind and eyes.

How could I ever think of myself—even though I am physically, mentally, emotionally very different from them and all others—that humanity is as divided and isolated as it appears to be?

We are “Sisters and brothers, brothers and sisters!”


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