"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: divide and conquer

inch by little inch . . . on a massive scale

After fifteen months of dormancy, tiny sprouts appeared on June 15, 2016.

After fifteen months of dormancy, tiny sprouts appeared on June 15, 2016.

Neuroscience is the underdeveloped frontier of medicine. While it has taken decades for new therapies such as targeted immunological approaches to treat melanoma and other cancers, there has been virtually no progress in understanding neurological diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease.)

Why is that, I’ve often wondered? With the billions of dollars spent on research throughout the world every year, why has medical progress been so slow for so long?

Then a popular craze comes along spurred by celebrity participation – such as the ice-bucket phenomenom that raised $100 million dollars in 2014 for ALS research. How many participated? And how many clucked their tongues thinking it was a waste of time and money? It was easy to do and nobody thought much more about it afterwards.

Well, guess what? With some of that ice-bucket money, they’ve discovered a new gene involved in 3% of ALS patients, both inherited and spontaneous. That may sound like a small thing but it has the potential to lead to new treatments. What was compelling to me is that it took research done at EIGHTY labs in ELEVEN countries throughout the world for this discovery to happen.

Maybe that’s what breakthroughs in medical science require: MUCH BIGGER SCALE. That is, maybe people have underestimated all this time what’s required to make miniscule progress and that “it takes (more than) a village” to make progress or to solve problems facing mankind.

This is exactly the opposite of “divide and conquer” – the ugly and selfish politics of Donald Trump.

Rather, even people working together at a small scale is not enough – but working together at a much more massive scale in the world and cooperating together – is what the world really requires if we are to make any progress at all to solve mysteries of science and medicine that would benefit everyone.

So you can think small and build walls to keep people out or, what? Can societies who have such different self-interests band together at a new scale in order to make progress? What a concept! It’s taken a FAD like an ice-bucket challenge to reap a tiny new breakthrough in ALS. But the real take-home message is much more significant: we are stronger working together than we are apart. And we should be doing it at a much larger scale in order to make breakthroughs that we all need.


P.S.  After this post was published, it occurred to me that the reason science makes such slow progress is due to the enmired secrecy culture of scientists – who hoard their own work so no one else will get credit for it. Things may be evolving now for larger consortiums to work together on scientific problems – but the old “I’m going to win a Nobel Prize” syndrome is still pretty entrenched with researchers that I’ve known for a long time.

40 days later, leaves and shoots photo taken on July 25, 2016

40 days later, leaves and shoots photo taken on July 25, 2016



“divide and conquer” . . .

eeecec835f56f1ed14e49b4a1501af7cWhen you get to be my age, you start to reflect on situations that were less than wonderful and then, burdened by our heavy-duty psychological culture (truly American, I think) we try very hard to either “work things out” or at least take a stab at “forgiveness” in order to be happy. After reading a bunch of stuff, I’ve come to a more reasonable approach that allows me to let go of that kind of baggage much more easily!

Which, is truly to “Let it Go!” like the “Frozen” movie–but here’s the catch: for me, I had to have some kind of intellectual hook or rationale for freeing myself from my self-induced beliefs about forgiveness duty. Guess what I discovered?

That resistance to forgiveness might be a resistance to feeling love for yourself within. And if you examine this little thought, why bother to jerk yourself around to forgive someone if you don’t care or feel love for that person in the first place? If someone did you in and they’re not part of your life anymore (like professional back-stabbing or thoughtless family members who will never change) who cares anymore? Just let ’em all go!

Right? If you love someone, they’re worth figuring out how to get along with better even if it means you have to be patient and it might take a long time. If you don’t care inside about them as being valuable to you, then stop chinning yourself onto some kind of high bar of personal resolution that doesn’t really matter in the end

So, if you’re still reading this little post, my “divide and conquer” perspective is to divide off those who really don’t matter to you in the end, and concentrate solely on improving those relationships that do. If forgiveness is part of it, so be it even if you can’t figure it out right away. (Sigh of relief.) Much more satisfying to build upon love than anything else, don’t you agree? Sounds simpler, at least for me.