Empathy is one of the last things that many kids develop. Empathy requires the ability to controls ones’ own emotional response, and to set aside ego to engage the theory of mind. Teenagers, as a rule aren’t exactly known for their emotional control; at least, not the ones who told a one-eyed cancer conqueror that her appearance was “A slap to the face of God.”
Emily “Emma” Monroe is a high school student in South Florida. She’s also a formidable volleyball player — a pretty impressive credential for someone with no depth perception. She also maintains a 4.6 GPA, even while working to help pay for the radiation treatments that make her feel like a run-down dog “6 out of 7 days of the week.” She was born with retinal cancer, and it’s already taken one eye. She’s scheduled for surgery to remove a cancerous mass in her good eye.
The other day, Emma posted this picture of herself on Tumblr, along with the following caption:
“This is my all-time favorite picture. I’m so proud of myself. I have no depth perception, and I’ve taught myself to play volleyball. I take so much pride in my team and all the hard work I put into it. No one truly understands how cancer [works] unless you yourself have it. You can’t imagine how I feel on a daily basis. Vomiting, weak, tired, groggy, grumpy, hormonal…every fucking day. 6 days out of 7, I’m sick. I push through though because I can’t let my team down. I still go to school and manage to maintain a 4.6 GPA. I still work to contribute to paying for my radiation. I volunteer at the shelter to make my life mean something if/when I go. I deal with being the most hated person in school daily because my glass eye is a ‘slap in the face to God.’
I don’t care what anyone says. I’m proud of myself.”
Blogger Christina Stephens of Patheos.com contacted her afterward, and Emma replied that a group of about two dozens students regularly make these sorts of statements.
“They said god wanted me dead and that’s why I’ve gotten cancer now three times. So my eye is a “trophy” to brag about how I fucked up God’s plan.”
But Emma is the bigger person…apparently, radiation treatments haven’t hurt HER empathy development any:
“I won’t say anything. I’m not going to disrespect someone’s religion. It takes a lot of restraint but it’s only right,” she said. “I’m agnostic I guess. I believe there’s something out there but idk what.”
She signs her responses with this emoticon:
“Divine right.” The belief that because you find yourself in a position of triumph, that it was God’s plan to put you there. It’s the belief that because you are more fortunate than some, you must therefore be superior. It’s the justification used by the rich, the religious, the royal and the flawless to convince themselves that their position is anything but tenuous. That their fortune is permanent, and they may enjoy it without fear of losing it. Divine right is a powerful idea, and only one thing can beat it.
Big h/t to Patheos.com for breaking Emma’s amazing story.