A country’s greatness is not measured by how much liberty it offers people, how well it enforces its laws or exports successfully its ideology; rather a great society or country is measured by how well it preserves human life for its citizens as well as for the rest of human kind. This preservation is not limited to any one group of people, or boundary, but rather for all. That said, I recently heard about a close personal friend’s spouse whose entire body at a relatively young age……somewhere in their late fifties is ravaged with the scourge of cancer.
The very word “cancer” is an attention getter for me. It plagued my mother to her own untimely death….as if death at any time is timely, although I think for her after the torment it put her through she certainly welcomed it, and it causes me a certain amount of angst, uneasiness because of how it completely wrecks the body and the soul as it runs its course through our veins. It is a disease like no other…it attacks, it seems at random anyone. Sure there are some cancers that can be prevented or at least diminished because of how we choose to live…..lung cancer comes to mind. Cigarette smoking is usually seen as a major risk factor for that kind of cancer and it’s said some manifestations of cervical cancer can be prevented by avoiding sexual contact with an HPV infected partner, but the other cancers that strike at random, pancreatic the cancer that killed Steve Jobs and the gender related cancers of breast and prostate have taken an enormous toll on humanity, the geniuses among us as well as our loved ones and we seem to be mere spectators in the game.
I for one am angry at “leaders” who seem all to inclined to wage war with humanity, one group or race or ethnicity or nationality against the other and not wage war against a far more common enemy like cancer. If we look at all the hue and cry about HIV, which was deserved by the way, and how far human kind has come in prolonging the lives of those who are infected with the AIDS virus, offering them an excellent quality of life, indeed life almost in the way they knew before being infected, we should take pause and pat ourselves and those institutions responsible for this success on the back. Perhaps you know of someone who died because they were HIV positive….my personal hero, Arthur Ashe was one of those and I wish he was around to see and benefit from what human kind has accomplished. That is an example of what we can do….all of us in beating a disease, by finding the cure, treating the disease and offering a good quality of life while afflicted with it, and by changing those factors and lifestyles that are risk factors for the disease.
So where are our leaders who are challenging all of us, the entire international community, to do the same with cancer? Why are they talking about infringing on the rights and the bodies of people and not talking about how we must cure sick bodies?! Why is there such preoccupation with what people can’t do with their bodies and not an equally ardent desire to see that their bodies remain healthy and disease free, even if that means at the government’s expense? Before man reached the moon, we were challenged by John Kennedy and given parameters toward that goal. Thereafter ensued a competition between America and Russia…conducted without the bloodshed of territorial expansionism that exists between nation states for a common good…and it doesn’t matter who won. Later on as we’ve seen, other countries joined in to expand space discovery and to cooperate in it. That took courage and a national determination or will to see it to completion along with leadership that set forth the challenge and provided the environment for the country to respond. Where is that leadership today?
This is not a political rant, however, it’s a personal one. Leadership cannot help my friend’s spouse now….they lay dying in their home while their partner spends thousands of dollars each month for something that for now doesn’t exist, and my question is why doesn’t it? A country like ours which has everything materially at its disposal cannot find a cure for a disease that plagues us on the microscopic level? I laugh at the notion. Certainly it can, but it will take courage and leadership and a recognition that finding this cure is urgent and of paramount importance. It may mean reducing war inspired rhetoric and forays into foreign lands, or at least removing such talk from the national discourse. That seems like such an easy thing to do, but ask one of the presidential candidates if he is willing to do that and see how quickly he squirms. Even medical cures are political footballs that get tossed around in an effort to avoid being dealt with.
I know we are better than this…..this country of immigrants which has gone on to do such great things for humanity, can find the cure for cancers if we make it a priority and that we must. If we don’t and we allow thousands to die every year then we are losing our humanity, valuable human resource potential and will only descend further into the oblivion, a nation that had potential and greatness but lost it because we were too busy fighting one another and dreaming up ghosts to fight. America is not being threatened, nor is its way of life at risk to any one ideology or group of people, but we are risking our humanity by plunging ourselves deeper into self annihilation with any talk other than what can benefit human health and potential. Perhaps we should declare a moratorium on all political rhetoric but human health issues, with cancer being the first priority among them. Meanwhile I hope your loved one can escape cancer; I pray for my friend’s spouse and for all others who are now battling this disease. One victory against cancer is a victory for all of us. I hope we are around to celebrate that victory.