Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cutting "finding a cure" out of the vocabulary

Talking about finding a cure for any disease seems to be an unproductive conversation. Finding one single cure completely ignores the fact that the disease is simply a set of conditions that exist only in relation to other contexts- social, cultural, economic, inter/intra-personal and spiritual etcetera. It is by conditions relation to something that we come to call it a disease, name it as undesirable, call it abnormal or determine that whatever exists is a problem.

By convention, and with convenient applications, we have classified certain conditions as most pervasive, established norms and expectations and labeled every aspect of our lives. The Type 1 Diabetes that I live with has come to be called a disease. But it is only a disease because most people do not live in such a condition. Right now, I work at a summer camp that is for children with Type 1 Diabetes. Here, having diabetes is the norm. In the time that kids are here, it really becomes the normal feeing to work with these conditions. Everyone around them tests their blood glucose at the same time, takes their insulin at the same time, and everyone plays games and sports paying attention to whether or not their blood glucose will go low or not. Kids describe that this becomes a place where they are not "the diabetic" but "John the soccer player" or "Matt the musician." There is no disease because there is no dis-ease about a set of circumstances.

Besides this, has there really ever been a cure for any disease? I think of something like Smallpox where there was no cure, there was only a vaccine that eventually eliminated the threat because our immune systems were resistant to it. Antibiotics and bacterial infections might be the only thing I can think of that comes close to qualifying as a "cure". But when it comes to things like Cancer or Diabetes, I think talking of a cure is an irrelevant conversation. The approach cannot be isolated to curing an ailment of the body, but the kinds of degenerative diseases we face today are so much more complicated than any pathogen.

It's not that I think we should stop doing the work we are doing into research, I just think we need to stop thinking about it as "looking for a cure." That kind of language strips us of the power we have over our own circumstances. Because distinctions only exist as relative to something else, if we can consciously apply our perception of our circumstances, we can empower ourselves to do miraculous things. It is irrelevant whether or not the circumstances themselves disappear because it is completely our decision how we will view them. The circumstances might be as benign as mild back pain or as severe as death- in any event we come up with the labels "good" or "bad" and determine our degree of suffering.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to high-light that this doesn't mean we stop doing the work we are doing. It is all about a change in mental attitude and accepting and moving beyond our circumstances as they are today.