Strangers on a Plane

Many years ago, I attended Presidential Classroom, a week-long educational event where lots of high-school seniors from all over the country learn about government, debate issues and meet their senators and representatives. It was a memorable week, but one of the most memorable parts was the trip to DC itself.

That's because I spent the entire plane ride arguing about abortion with the lady sitting next to me. Back then I was a Pat Robertson Christian (I even worked for his campaign) and was sure that abortion was murder. The woman in the aisle seat vehemently disagreed. She was older, maybe in her fifties, with striking features. And while she was pointed in her argument, she was remarkably patient with me, and our heated discussion made an impression on my stubborn young mind.

Years later, I saw a picture of her and my jaw dropped. There, on the cover of a book about aging*, was the woman I'd argued with on the plane.

It was Betty Friedan.

Ever since then, I've wondered about her. Now that she's dead, I'm sorry to see her go. But if anyone lived a full life and contributed to this society, it was she.

And if I sat next to her on a plane today, we wouldn't disagree.

*The current cover doesn't show her.

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