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Category Archives: Immortality Medicine
Posted: May 14, 2020 at 4:59 pm
Who would have thought that a virus would make us reflect deeply on what it means to be the church? Yet COVID-19 has brought into sharp relief the basic divide in North American Christianity between those who think of the church as a voluntary association of like-minded individuals and those who believe it is the real body of Christ, into which we are incorporated. The emphasis on the individual in large swaths of contemporary culture results in an anemic ecclesiology, as the recent crisis makes clear.
John Williamson Nevin, one of the key representatives of German Reformed Mercersburg theology, sharply attacked the revivalism of his day, commenting in his 1849 article on The Sect System: The sect mind . . . in proportion as it has come to be unchurchly and simply private and individual is always necessarily to the same extent unsacramental.
Abraham Kuyper, the great Dutch Reformed theologian and statesman, observed in his 1898 Lectures on Calvinism that Calvinism, by praising aloud liberty of conscience, has in principle abandoned every absolute characteristic of the visible Church. He described it as a liberty of conscience, which enables every man to serve God according to his own conviction and the dictates of his own heart.
Baptist theologian Curtis Freeman, in his 2014 book Contesting Catholicity, similarly laments soul competencythe radical emphasis on individual consciencewhich, beginning in the nineteenth century, has come to dominate Baptist theology.
Nevin, Kuyper, and Freeman all share the same concern about the inversion of the relationship between the church and the believer.
The Internet has been abuzz lately about virtual communion: Why not have the priest do his thing in front of the camera, while we partake by ourselves looking into the screenwith social distance serving as one of the few remaining ritual demands? Why forgo the heavenly manna now that we have the technological know-how to make it rain down virtually into the privacy of our homes?
The Jesuit patristic scholar Henri de Lubac has a few things to teach us about virtual communion in his 1947 book Catholicism. It is a lengthy broadside against individualism in the Catholic tradition. It may seem odd for a Catholicespecially a pre-Vatican II Catholicto worry about people prioritizing the individual over the church. But he did, and his worries are eerily relevant to the rush toward virtual communion among todays tech-savvy evangelicals.
De Lubac was troubled by a Eucharistic individualism that he believed had shaped the mindset of many of his Catholic contemporaries. Convinced as they were that the body of Christ in the Eucharist was the true body (corpus verum), all that seemed to matter was to partake. Once the miraculous medicine of immortality had been ingested, one might as well turn back down the aisle and walk out of church, for the one and only reason for going to Mass had now been performed. De Lubac was agitated, rightly I think, with the individualismyes, the selfish consumerism and greedin this Eucharistic spirituality.
The underlying premise of the embrace of virtual communion is that form and matter, media and message can (and perhaps ought to) be disentangled from each other. Our technological age makes its own, unique demands, and so, for many, to insist on eating the body (the Eucharist) as a body (the church) betrays unhealthy Luddite technophobia.
De Lubac countered the gnostic demon at work. He asked his readers to think about what it means to eat the body (the Eucharist) as a body (the church), pointing out the close link between embodiment and community. Turning to 1 Corinthians 10:1617 (The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread), de Lubac pointed out that for Saint Paul, participation (koinnia, communion) of the body of Christ (the Eucharist) turns us into the body of Christ (the church).
All this talk of the body of Christ is no mere metaphor. Saint Augustine, in his famous Sermon 227, writes about the Eucharist: If you have received worthily, you are what you have received, for the Apostle says: The bread is one; we though many, are one body. The African bishop seems to suggest that believers, by partaking of communion, are transubstantiated (well, changed) into the body of Christ. When we eat Christ, we become Christ.
The Christian tradition has typically treated body and body (Eucharist and church) as mutually dependent. On the one hand, the Eucharist makes the church. This seems to be the Pauline logic of 1 Corinthians 10 and of Augustine in Sermon 227. On the other hand, the church makes the Eucharist: We offer up our giftsour entire livesin Christ on the altar. Body and body depend on each other. Neither can go it alone. The reason is simple: The two are one flesh (Eph. 5:31).
Eating and drinking in front of the screen usually indicates a theology of real absence: Neither consecrated bread nor epicletic invocation of the Spirit is required if communion is a mere mental exercise. Indeed, a memorialist communion celebration is virtual by definition, even if it takes place in a church.
Which raises an interesting question: Could we do virtual consecration? True, the priest would not be able to put his hand on the bread and the wine on my coffee table at home, but hey, such pesky manual acts predate YouTube and Zoom by quite a few centuries, and surely by now theyve become obstacles that stand in our way? How central could the sense of touch really be?
Come to think of it, why did it take us so long to get with the times? Why limit YouTube to the COVID-19 pandemic? If consecration works regardless of place, why set physical foot in the church ever again? Heres a modest proposal: Lets have one clericwe could ask the archbishop of Canterbury or the bishop of Romedo his consecrating thing, while the rest of us chill in our TV rooms, giving thanks for the great sacrifice. Actually, is it even necessary to turn to the screen for Franciss latest clip? Surely, watching him elevate the host isnt of the essence of things, as long as I know that he has consecrated also the bread on my plate.
I agree. Its a gnostic argument ad absurdum. But the reason it works is that every stepincluding the very first oneis an exercise in spirituality that treats the Eucharist as a consumer service satisfying my individual religious demands rather than as the chief act of divine worship through which were transfigured so as to become the body of Christ that we eat.
The individualism of pre-Vatican II Catholics is different from that of contemporary evangelicals. The former stems from an over-reliance on real presence: As long as I myself have partaken of the true, Eucharistic body of Christ, I might as well discount the mystical body of the church. The latter is (most of the time) connected to a belief in real absence: If Christ is not bodily present, then our communal, bodily presence can hardly be of significance.
In truth, the bodily presence of Christ in the wafer and the bodily presence of the believers in church are two sides of the same coin. Eucharist via Zoom evacuates the (ecclesial) body even while confecting the (Eucharistic) body. Its a practice that puts asunder what God has joined together.
Catholic and evangelical expressions of consumerist individualism may be located on opposite sides of the theological spectrum, but both fail to recognize that body and body, Christ and the church, are one and the same. When it comes to prioritizing the individual over the church, the difference is, well, wafer-thin.
Hans Boersmais the Saint Benedict Servants of Christ Professor in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House.
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A Wafer-Thin Practice | Hans Boersma - First Things
Posted: April 21, 2020 at 7:48 pm
All these technologies show amazing promise and some of them are already in use. The scientific community in India is constantly pushing their limits to get to a stage where the diagnosis of cancer will not be a life-altering event for patients
In the last few decades, cancer has become a leading cause of mortality worldwide. According to the WHO, currently, around 10 million new cancers are diagnosed each year worldwide, but unless there is an effective prevention campaign, the number will rise to 20 million in the next 17 years time. Therefore, the global scientific and healthcare community are turning to novel approaches in an attempt to make sure those grim projections dont continue to haunt us. Stronger and effective cancer treatments are certainly part of the development goals, but a premium is also being put on early diagnosis to ensure better medical outcomes and assured prevention.
Today, more focus is given to precision medicine-quantitation, multiplexing and highly precise identification of markers. Precise tools which were once utilised in research settings are now applied in clinical practice with just one goal in mind- faster and more efficient cancer testing.
In this article, we examine top technologies that will improve efficiencies and precision in cancer diagnostics and prevention in India.
Fluid biopsies: Many scientific publications have documented that liquid or fluid biopsies are informative regarding response to a given therapy, are capable of detecting relapse with lead time compared to standard measures, and reveal mechanisms of resistance. According to Dr BS Ajaikumar, Chairman and CEO, HCG Global, liquid biopsy plays a significant role in those cases where it is difficult to establish a tissue diagnosis in a recurrent or metastatic setting. It is a simple minimally invasive procedure done on blood, plasma or urine sample to identify the genetic material of tumour cells either as ctDNA (Circulating tumour DNA) or CTC (Circulating Tumour cells) or cfDNA (Cell-free DNA) by identification of cancer-associated DNA / RNA / exosomes.
He further lists down some benefits of the same:
Real-time cancer diagnostics: With the need to need to translate recent discoveries in oncology research into clinical practice, cancer experts believe that objective, robust and cost-effective molecular techniques for clinical trials and, eventually, routine use is a must. Real-time PCR has become a useful and cost-effective technique for tumour profiling among clinical laboratories.
Dr Kirti Chadha, Head of Laboratory at Metropolis Healthcare expounds, The pathogenesis of tumours is complex making the surgical management more difficult. Here comes the role of real-time diagnostics which will give an on-table diagnosis to make the treatment successful. A lot of research is going on it like an intelligent surgical knife has been developed by using an old technology where an electrical current heats tissue to make incisions with minimal blood loss, but with this technology, the vapourised smoke is analysed by a mass spectrometer to detect the chemicals in the biological sample allowing identification of malignant tissue. Also, a robotic platform has been developed in treating lung cancer. It combines robotics, software, data science and endoscope innovation to help diagnose lung cancer at an early stage with more accuracy and a lower risk of complications. Similarly, realtime detection of breast cancer at the cellular level by a multispectral confocal scanning system has been developed. These are at research levels or some of them are being approved for use. Introducing advanced technology to traditional methods can also give us better real-time solutions like using digital pathology.
Digital PCR: Digital PCR is the latest and advanced iteration of a conventional quantitative RT-PCR for sensitive and accurate measurement of DNA/RNA from samples. The primary principle behind the technique is similar to q-PCR but differs in the way the sample target is analysed.
Dr Dheeraj Gautam, Head of Department Department of Histopathology, Associate Director- Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine, Medanta- The Medicity says, PCR is a common test used to make many copies (millions or billions) of a particular region of DNA. With best systems, we have the capability to detect as few as ~10 copies of DNA templates. It is routinely used in DNA cloning, cancer diagnostics, and forensic analysis of DNA. For example, it might be a DNA sequence (gene) from a crime scene to match crime suspect, by forensic scientists. Typically, the goal of PCR is to amplify enough of the target DNA region, so that it can be analysed to deliver useful scientific information. Presently, Coronavirus is being tested by this method.
Adding to this, Dr Ajaikumar informs, Digital PCR is a simple and reproducible technique that does not rely on a calibration curve for sample target quantification. Digital PCR works by partitioning a sample of DNA into many individual, parallel PCR reactions. Following PCR amplification, the number of positive vs negative reactions is determined and the absolute quantification of target calculated using Poisson statistics. The benefits are, high precision, better signal to noise ratio, removal of PCR efficiency bias and simplified quantification.
Speaking about the areas in which Digital PCR is currently applied, Dr Chadha reveals, dPCR is currently being applied for absolute allele quantification, rare mutation detection, analysis of copy number variations, DNA methylation, and gene rearrangements in different kinds of clinical samples. The form of digital PCR ie. Digital droplet PCR(ddPCR) is performed in Metropolis for circulating tumour DNA(ctDNA), EGFR/KRAS/NRAS/BRAF mutations in lung and colorectal cancer.
Chromosome Analysis: Since altered genetic mechanisms lead to the development of cancer, chromosome analysis plays a significant role in the diagnosis and treatment monitoring of patients with various types of cancer. Chromosome analysis can be done by karyotyping and CGH(Comparative Genomic Hybridisation) array.
Dr Ajaikumar explains the various techniques that follow under chromosome analysis:
Cytogenetics(Karyotyping and FISH): FISH can identify chromosomal abnormalities such as insertions, deletions, translocations and amplification, through the use of fluorescent dyes that bind to sequences of interest. It is well known that certain types of cancer have specific genetic alterations. So far > 200 rearrangements and fusions have been identified. Examples include BCR-ABL translocation in CML, ALK rearrangement in NSCLC, Her-2 in Breast Cancer, Synovial sarcoma with t(X:18) (p11.2;q11.2), Ewings Sarcoma with t(11:22) (q24;q12.2). FISH is applied to detect genetic abnormalities that include different characteristic gene fusions or the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell or loss of a chromosomal region or a whole chromosome. It is also applied in different research applications, such as gene mapping or the identification of novel oncogenes. FISH has high sensitivity and specificity. With microfluidics FISH, it can be faster and less costly.
Immunohistochemistry: Provides a platform for identification of certain chromosomal alterations through detection of proteins. Examples are the Her-2 testing in Breast and gastric cancer, ALK in NSCLC, TFE3 in Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma, MDM2 and CDK4 in certain soft tissue sarcomas like Liposarcomas. They have high sensitivity and specificity of almost 95-97 per cent. They also provide targets for drug therapy.
Molecular testing: Through PCR, Direct sequencing, DNA and Protein microarray techniques and the latest path-breaking technology of NGS. PCR and sequencing are useful when we want to look for the presence of a known genetic alteration such as EGFR mutation in lung adenocarcinoma. But when the alterations are unknown or are likely to involve many loci, a panel of genetic markers can be screened through Next-Generation sequencing.
Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS): Massively parallel deep sequencing of a large number of patients with a variety of cancers to analyse the mutation profile of tumours at one go provides a comprehensive understanding of the processes that drive an individuals cancer. This will break the cycle of trial and error medicine, and link the test to patient-tailored action and evidence-based therapy/ treatment plan in cancer. Furthermore, using genomic markers as response predictors to chemotherapy will dramatically improve response rates impacting the risk-benefit ratio for these patients.
Cell Signaling Pathway Testing: According to experts, cancer is caused by genetic and/or epigenetic changes in one cell or a group of cells. These alterations disrupt normal cell function and cause cancerous cells to proliferate and avoid mechanisms that would typically control their growth, division, and migration. Many of these disruptions map to specific cell signalling pathways. These pathways are involved in deregulated cell survival, cell differentiation and apoptosis. They form the hallmark of cancer that include immune evasion, replicative immortality, activate invasion and metastasis, induce angiogenesis, resist cell death, deregulate cellular energetics, sustained proliferative signalling, evading growth suppressors, possess genome instability and mutations, and mediate a tumour associated inflammatory response. Signalling pathways such as Ras proteins through Raf-MEK-Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathways regulate cell survival, cell proliferation and migration/invasion in response to matrix adhesion and growth factor stimulation. Three Ras proteins KRAS, NRAS and HRAS become mutationally activated and promote oncogenesis. Also identified are Wnt/Beta Catenin signalling in APC and NF2 gene in Neurofibromatosis Type 2. Certain growth factors such as RTK-VEGF, TGF Beta, PTEN in several types of cancers, are detected with either FISH or IHC or ELISA or other molecular profiling such as NGS more accurately and form the target for drug therapy.
Tissue microarrays: Tissue microarray technology overcomes the bottleneck of traditional tissue analysis and allows it to catch up with the rapid advances in lead discovery.Dr Chadha further explains, Tissue microarrays consist of paraffin blocks in which up to 1000 separate tissue cores are assembled in array fashion to allow multiplex histological analysis. It is a recent innovation in the field of pathology. A microarray contains many small representative tissue samples from hundreds of different cases assembled on a single histological slide, and therefore allows high throughput analysis of multiple specimens at the same time. It can permit simultaneous analysis of molecular targets at the DNA, mRNA, and protein levels under identical, standardised conditions on a single glass slide, and also provide maximal preservation and use of limited and irreplaceable archival tissue samples. This versatile technique, in which data analysis is automated facilitates retrospective and prospective human tissue studies. It is a practical and effective tool for high-throughput molecular analysis of tissues that is helping to identify new diagnostic and prognostic markers and targets in human cancers and has a range of potential applications in basic research, prognostic oncology and drug discovery. This technique is very versatile as many downstream molecular assays such as immunohistochemistry, cytogenetic studies, Fluorescent In situ-Hybridisation (FISH) etc., can be carried out on a single slide with multiple numbers of samples.
Adding further, Dr Ajaikumar points out, The field of biomarker research can further be escalated by the integration of TMA technology with digital pathology. The most important disadvantage of this technique is that one small tissue core may not be representative of the whole tumour analysed conventionally. Therefore, many such cores of the same may be required to carry out analysis to arrive at a definitive conclusion. This is mainly significant for heterogeneous tumours like a human ovarian tumour. Whether this technology is useful in heterogeneous tumours is still highly debated.
Artificial intelligence-based therapy: Many cancer care experts believe that integration of AI technology can improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosis, aid clinical decision-making, and lead to better health outcomes. AI-guided clinical care has, therefore, the potential to play an important role in reducing health disparities, particularly in low-resource settings.Dr Gautam exemplifies how AI integration can be done in cancer diagnosis. A pathology AI system is a computer programme that assists pathologists in their work or provides automated pathology. Machine learning allows learning a task from data, like providing a diagnosis or a score, or a subtask, like classifying different cancers. A deep learning network is able to learn highly complex visual features just from the image data, achieving expert human performance, he describes.
Similarly, citing more examples, Dr Chadha spells out, AI also has gained importance in therapy designs, for e.g. Google is collaborating with health delivery networks to build prediction models from big data to warn clinicians of high-risk conditions, such as sepsis and heart failure. A neural network was applied to identify breast cancer with the inputs from mammographic images. A convolutional neural network was also performed to identify skin cancer from clinical images. Many start-ups are developing AI-derived image interpretation algorithms and can identify the patients at most risk as well as those likely to respond to treatment protocols. Digital pathology is one such platform which can be used for AI interpretations and diagnosis. Metropolis is one of the first CAP & NABL approved labs in India to adopt this platform. Scanning of slides to create a database which can be used for machine learning and AI-derived image interpretation.
On the anvil
As the scientific community continues to move ahead there will be cross-fertilisation of tests and technologies in the future. Oncologists and histopathologists also indicate a growing significance of pharmacodiagnostics in cancer care due to the development of new improved targeted drugs.
Adds Dr Chadha, This emerging and expanding speciality with major potential for the specific linking of a treatment outcome like a response, toxicity and resistance to a key molecular alteration (e.g. protein overexpression or gene amplification) within a disease state to predict therapeutic response. It is used in measuring response or adverse side effects of both established and newer therapies. In oncology, recent advances with targeted therapeutics have demonstrated the critical importance of appropriate pharmacodiagnostic approaches. It is based on identifying somatic molecular changes in the tumour which forms the basis of molecular targeting of many novel therapies. The development of Herceptin (targeting the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2) oncogene in breast cancer) and Glivec (targeting BCR-ABL translocation in leukaemia) are excellent examples of the close relationship between target expression, pharmacodiagnostic tests and clinical therapeutic response. As treatment response depends on the molecular profile of individual cancer, the major challenge for the future will be to co-develop novel targeted therapies and pharmacodiagnostic tests also called as companion diagnostic tests that will predict patient response to therapy. To successfully integrate novel pharmacodiagnostics into clinical practice the collaboration between pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries, clinical oncologists and researchers must be strengthened.
Going forward, experts reveal immense opportunities for IVD companies to thrive in this business segment. But to be successful, IVD companies must demonstrate the impact their technologies will have on physicians decisions and patient outcomes.
See the original post here:
Promising technologies that will change cancer testing in India - Express Healthcare
Posted: April 11, 2020 at 8:06 pm
In the early 2nd century, the great bishop and theologian whom we know today as St. Ignatius of Antioch, wrote a series of letters to several important Christian cities while a prisoner on route to his eventual martyrdom in Rome. The texts of these stunning letters have been persevered to this day, and they provide a fascinating window into the faith of the early Church.
Toward the end of his letter to the Ephesians, St. Ignatius admonishes the faithful of that city to remain obedient to their bishop and priests, and then encourages them with powerful words concerning the Eucharist, which he calls: the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live forever inJesus Christ.
What a beautiful way to refer to the Eucharist: The Medicine of Immortality! It seems to me that St. Ignatius is merely summarizing the teaching of Our Lord himself, who said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (John 6:51).
The Eucharist is indeed powerful medicine for the soul, and a pledge of the future resurrection of our bodies. But as we know well from our experience, sometimes the medicines with the strongest healing effects can be the medicines which are most easily abused. This is why strong medicines come with serious warning labels. And the Eucharist is no different.
St. Paul gives us precisely such a warning label in his first letter to the Corinthians, when he explains:
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. (1 Cor. 11:27-29)
Lets unpack what St. Paul is telling us here. Just as a strong medicine might bring life and health to one patient whose condition warrants it, that very same medicine could cause damage and even death in another patient whose condition is quite different, and is not so disposed to receive that medicines effects.
This is exactly what Bishop Matano has in mind in his Pastoral Letter, when he reminds us:
Belief in the Eucharistic presence of Christ also means that we approach the Holy Eucharist properly disposed, that is, not conscious of serious sin that requires that we avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Confession, before the reception of Holy Communion.
In my work in the parish, I try to remind people that if they are at Mass but know that they have a mortal sin on their soul and need to get to confession, then the very best thing they can do for themselves is actually not receive Holy Communion! This advice is not meant to be harsh or exclusionary. Rather, it is actually like the advice of a good doctor who says to his patient: this medicine is not for you right now, but dont worry, I have something else for you that will help you get better! If they want, I allow them to come up a receive a simple blessing from the priest instead, until they can arrange to make it to the Sacrament of Confession.
Ultimately, if we want to grow in our love of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to see the Eucharist as that medicine of immortality which we profess It to be, we are in desperate need to recover the practice of regular sacramental confession. These two Sacraments go hand in hand.
I think Bishop Matano gives us two important keys to bringing this about.
First, he reminds us that the Year of the Eucharist is meant to support parents in their role as the primary religious instructors of their children. Participation at Holy Mass, love of the Eucharist, and regular confession can only be cultivated at the Diocesan-wide level if our parents insist on making such practices a normal part of their lives as Catholic families.
Secondly, the Bishop encourages us to participate in Eucharistic worship even outside of Mass, particular through times of Eucharistic adoration. It was Pope John Paul II spoke of Eucharistic adoration as a way of fostering what he called Eucharistic amazementa profound belief and existential fervor in our knowledge of love of the fact that Jesus Christ is really present on our altars and in our Tabernacles, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
Wherever this Eucharistic amazement exists, then I am convinced that we will also use this great Medicine of Immortality in the manner that Our Lord intended, to bring about true health and nourishment to our souls.
Father Peter Van Lieshout was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rochester by Bishop Matano in 2014, after completing his seminary training at the North American College in Rome, Italy. He holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology with a concentration in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas. Father Van Lieshout is currently assigned as Parochial Administrator of St. Peters Parish in Clifton Springs, in addition to serving as Co-Director of Priestly Vocation Awareness.
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The Medicine of Immortality | Eucharist :: Evangelization ...
Posted: April 9, 2020 at 5:58 pm
Two hundred and fifty years after his birth, he remains a poet of blessed consolations in distress
IN THIS SEASON of cancelled parties, the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworths birth will also go unmarked in public. Celebrations of the English poet, born on April 7th 1770, should have bloomed like his beloved daffodils all over the Lakeland region (pictured), and beyond. He taught not only his compatriots but devotees around the world to be, like him, a lover of the meadows and the woods, / And mountains; and of all that we behold / From this green earth. Now the British landscapes he trudged through are empty of the visitors that his verse attracted from overcrowded Victorian cities. (Indeed, in his later years Wordsworth fretted about the mass tourism that his Romantic worship of unspoilt nature had fostered. Is then no nook of English ground secure / From rash assault? he thundered when the Kendal and Windermere railway, designed to carry Wordsworthian excursionists, was proposed in 1844.)
Wordsworth has lately stridden back into fashion as a pioneer ecologist, a green visionary. For him, nature is a single, interconnected system. Every child joins it not as an alien manipulator but, as his autobiographical epic, The Prelude, puts it, an inmate of this active universe; even as an agent of the one great mind. The fledgling poet, his mature self recalled, grasped and gloried in the interdependence of nature, for in all things / I saw one life, and felt that it was joy. The so-called Gaia hypothesis of modern environmentalism starts here.
First-hand encounters with the healing benefits of fell and vale have now been put on hold. Still, the bard of the great outdoors has lessons for people trapped inside by natural forces greater than human will. In a period of enforced apartness, Wordsworths lifelong pursuit of joyous solitude seems timelier than ever. He contrasted calm, reflective isolation with the loneliness of compulsory sociability. As his poem Home at Grasmere warns, he truly is alone, / He of the multitude whose eyes are doomed / To hold vacant commerce day by day / With that which he can neither know nor love.
For Wordsworth, solitude brings joy above all because it carves out space for memory. Even his over-familiar daffodils (I wandered lonely as a cloud) matter most not at first sight but when, recollected, they flash upon the inward eye / Which is the bliss of solitude. More than the treks, tours and climbs around picturesque locations that filled his years and drew generations of disciples to ramble after him, what Wordsworth cherished was memory as solace and strength. The Prelude finds meaning not so much in the rapture of observation as the balm of reminiscence, since The earth / And common face of Nature spake to me / Rememberable things. Uncannily, his great poem of 1798, Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey, talks of finding relief through memory from the fever of the world. That relief comes in fond thoughts of the winding river Wye, Thou wanderer through the woods, / How often has my spirit turned to thee.
Generations of readers have noted that Wordsworths own memory-enriched solitude was companionably shared: his poetic jaunts around the Lakes depended on the decades-long support provided by his sister Dorothy, wife Mary, and sister-in-law Sara. This champion of rugged hermits, outcasts and nomads could always walk home to warm fires and friendly faces. He did, however, live with grief and lossof his parents, his brother, of two young children, and of the political hopes prompted by the French Revolution that later shattered into what he calls these times of fear / This melancholy waste of hopes oerthrown.
As a poet of comfort via simple, everyday experience, of blessed consolations in distress, he remains without equal. The philosopher John Stuart Mill paid the finest tribute to this gift. Stricken by a depressive breakdown after his hyper-intellectual youth, Millas his Autobiography of 1873 explainsfound in Wordsworth a supremely effective medicine for my mind. His poems fed Mill with a source of inward joy, of sympathetic and imaginative pleasure, which could be shared in by all human beings. As Mill put it: I felt myself at once better and happier as I came under their influence.
During this spell of collective standstill, that power need not dimand you do not need to contemplate some awesome summit, torrent or ravine to feel it. As the Ode: Intimations of Immortality confesses, To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. Look closely when out on your next state-approved stroll.
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William Wordsworth was the supreme bard of nature and solitude - The Economist
Posted: March 31, 2020 at 6:34 am
Is immortality within our reach? Maybe not yet, but we are definitely trying. While the new film "Self/Less" features an interesting science fiction take on achieving immortality, various advances have been taking place in the very real scientific community. We may have a long way to go before we can transfer our consciousness into Ryan Reynolds body, butscience is working pretty hard on some fascinating alternatives to the notion of immortality:
Anti-Aging Genetic Engineering
The inhibitor is currently in trials as an anticancer agent, and the hope is that one day death will not be the result a prolonged, painful disease, but through a quicker, more natural means like cardiac arrest or stroke. Here's what Irina Conboy, one of the scientists at UC Berkeley, said about the motivations behind the team's efforts.
Tests have not yet been performed on human subjects, but the progress seen so far is enough to makeStuart Orkin of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, feel very confident about the future.
But that's not the only advance in stem cell research. This year, scientists at the Salk Institute discovered a type of stem cell whose identity is tied to their location in a developing embryo, and not their time-related stage of development. These region-selective pluripotent stem cells (rsPSCs) are easier to grow in the laboratory, offer advantages for gene editing, and, unlike conventional stem cells, have the ability to integrate into modified mouse embryos.
As Jun Wu, a postdoctoral researcher describes; understanding the spatial characteristics of the stem cells "could be crucial to generate functional and mature cell types for regenerative medicine." It could well be that in the near future, parts of the body that have degenerated due to age, could be regenerated at will by the introduction of these fascinating stem cells.
Ananodevice imbued with data on toxins and pathogens could be used to enhance the human immune system by recognizing and destroying an invasive agent. Nanotechnology could also be used to remove lipofuscin, a product that accumulates in lysosomes negatively impacting cell function and manifesting in age related conditions. All of these technologies are speculative, but nanobots are already lengthening our lives in tests to fight cancer, and many believe such technologies are truly the future of the medical industry.
Computer programmers have already created artificial neural networks that can form associations and learn through pattern-recognition, but they don't possess the complexity of the human brain. However, if our consciousness is just based on brain activity and if technology can record and analyze them, they could possibly be reduced to computations. Advances have already been made with animal tests, and in 2011 a team from the University of Southern California and Wake Forest University created the first artificial neural implant, a device that produces electrical activity that causes a rat to react as thoughthe signal came from its own brain.
- Neruobridge technology reconnected a paralyzed man's brain to his body
- The Eyeborg: Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence lost his right eye in a shotgun accident and replaced it with a video camera that transmits what he's seeing to a computer.
- Programmer Amal Graafstra has inserted radio-frequency identification chips in his hands connected to scanners on his doors and laptop, eliminating the need for keys or passwords.
- "Transhumanists" advocate for cyborgization, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology, to increase our intelligence, health, and lives to transform humanity to a "post-human" stage.
Current advances in anti-aging, regenerative medicine, nanomedicine, digital immortality, and cyborgization may only be focusing on prolonging life at the moment. But these technologies have already improved our lives, and as the possibility of immortality is played out on the movie screen, we can see the world of fiction slowly melding with our own reality.
Posted: at 6:34 am
A panis vivus essay is meant to convey, in no uncertain terms, that the Eucharist is really and truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is our collective response to the 2019 Pew Research Center survey, which reported that only a third of United States Catholics believe in the Real Presence. Henceforward, a panis vivus essay will be published once per month during the academic year.
We are all sick, infected with mortality. Death is the one disease that does not discriminate, but comes for all eventually. As Saint Augustine laments, Not everything grows old, but everything dies (Confessions, IV.x.15).
But it was not always so, because God did not make death (Wis 1:13) but created man for incorruption (Wis 2:23). When God made man, he immunized him to death. Dwelling in friendship with God, the souls of our first parents enjoyed a spiritual life that flowed like an IV into their bodies, vaccinating them against physical death.
When our first parents rebelled against God, however, they tore the lifeline of saving medicine from their veins. Instead, the spiritual death of the soul began to seep into the body. All humanity became sick with the double death of soul and body.
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick, Jesus said (Lk 5:31). And humanity was sicksick unto death. Jesus became man to be the physician we need. As St. Ignatius of Antioch confessed, There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit, born and unborn, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God, first subject to suffering and then beyond it, Jesus Christ our Lord (Letter to the Ephesians 7.2).
Going to the cross, like a medic into the midst of a battle, He who for us is life itself descended here and endured our death and slew it by the abundance of his life (Confessions, IV.xii.19). In his humanity, our Divine Physician overcame the death of the human soul and body.
Christ applies the healing power of his passion, death, and resurrection to our illness through the sacraments. Baptism pours new, divine life into our souls. But sin can still attack our newfound health. For, sin is the spiritual death of the soul (ST III q. 79, a. 6). Confession, then, resuscitates the soul to life.
In the Eucharist, however, we discover a unique medicine. While the other sacraments convey the physicians healing power, the Eucharist contains the physician himself. The Eucharist is the flesh of our savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins and which the Father by his goodness raised up (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6.2). In the Eucharist, Christ is both physician and medicine.
Christ gives himself as the medicine to strengthen and preserve our souls from death and prepare our bodies to share his physical resurrection. This is why St. Ignatius calls it the medicine of immortality, the antidote we take in order not to die but to live forever in Jesus Christ (Letter to the Ephesians 20.2).
Christ himself promises that if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever (Jn 6:51). As St. Thomas Aquinas comments, Christ presents the Eucharist as the cure to both spiritual and physical death: But those who eat the Eucharist spiritually, both live spiritually now without sin, and will live physically forever (Commentary on the Gospel of John, ch. 6, lect. 6, n. 954).
The Eucharist is not like some cheap over-the-counter drug. Rather, it is the most potent, most effective antidote, giving eternal life to the soul and the body. Normal medicine, like food, enters the body and is used up by the body, transformed into the body. This medicine of immortality, on the other hand, transforms the one who receives it. Augustine heard, as it were, the voice of God directing him to the Euchairst, assuring him, you will not change me into you like the good your flesh eats, but you will be changed into me (Confession, VII.x.16).
Here, then, we have the antidote to our illness, the medicine for our mortality. In the Eucharist, we receive a share in the one who does not grow old or die but is ever ancient, ever new (Confessions, X.xxvii.38).
Image: James Tissot, La communion des aptres
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Medicine of Immortality | Dominicana
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Companies like Google are now investing millions ofdollars into the research ofeternal life. Along with the breakthroughs, scientists have also come across some challenges, aswell.
Immortality has fascinated people for thousands ofyears. The perspective ofliving forever has had such astrong case against the fear ofdying that people have been looking for anelixir oraremedy toprolong life for many centuries.
Bright Side wants toshare with you whats going oninscience inthe search for immortality and would like topresent toyou anoutlook onthe possibility ofliving forever.
The idea ofimmortality issocaptivating that modern science and medicine may bringus asclose todiscovering asolution asever.
For example, atNorthwestern University intheUS, scientists learned toturn off the genetic switch that causes aging, however, not inhumans yet, but inworms. Ofcourse, its ahuge step from worms tohumans, but this technique isalready animportant achievement.
Another achievement was torevive old mice byinfusing blood from young mice. Researchers think this procedure could also work onhumans.
Silicon Valley isalso involved inthis science, and wehave some big names standing behind the research.
Agreat amount ofmoney isbeing put forward for immortality research, and there are many celebrities who are involved inthe contribution:
Larry Ellison: one ofthe five richest men onEarth and one ofthe owners ofOracle.
Sergey Brin: co-founder ofGoogle and the Calico foundation, which focuses onhealth, well-being, and longevity.
Aubrey deGrey: ascientist and aresearcher; the founder ofnumerous studies onregenerative medicine.
These famous people confessed that theyre afraid ofaging and death and theyre now investing infinding remedies against this seemingly inevitable outcome.
Scientist and author ofEnding Aging (2007), Aubrey deGrey, isworking onstrategies toexclude death from our genes. Heiscurrently working onthe 7deadly SENS things that cause aging onacellular level," and they are:
Modern science onimmortality and 5ways toachieveit:
The idea ofimmortality iscaptivating tothis day and wehave aton ofscience fiction toimagine how itcan turn out movies, TVshows, books, and scientific articles provide anincredible amount ofinformation.
Toquote Wolfgang Fink, aresearcher from the University ofArizona, Iwould see immortality coming from the biological sector. Healso says, Bypreventing cell death and aging, preserving itthrough cryogenic methods ordonors, wecan prolong their natural lifespan.
Here are the five ways scientists believe tobeable toachieve immortality:
Eternal life through meditation?
While what scientists are dealing with still remindsus more ofscience fiction, lets get back towhats happening onEarth.
Ever heard ofDashi-Dorzho Itigilov? Hewas aBuryat Buddhist lama, born in1852. And heisstill believed tobeinameditative state, rather than dead. Itisall due tothe way hepassed away. Herecommended his fellow monks tostart the process ofmeditation and the funeral rites while hesat inthe lotus position, claiming hewould soon pass away. Henever wokeup from this meditation and tothis day heremains inthe lotus position and seems toremain immune from any signs ofdecay. People believe heisinastate ofhibernation oranirvana-like state.
Well, maybe meditation wont provide eternal life toall ofus, but some ofthe benefits ofmeditation are:
All ofthe above can have apositive effect onthe longevity ofyour life.
Biohackers have adifferent approach tothe matter oflongevity. They use their knowledge ofneuromediators and genes toprolong their lives and toimprove their body performance.
Over the years, several men and women have achieved along lifespan. Here are some ofthem:
Jeanne Calment (1875-1997), lived for 122 years and 164days.
Shigechiyo Izumi (1865-1986), lived for 120 years and 237days.
Sarah DeRemer (Clark) Knauss (1880-1999), lived for 119 years and 97days.
Lucy (Terrell) Hannah (1875-1993), lived for 117 years and 248days.
Marie Louse Febronie (Chasse) Meilleur (1880-1998), lived for 117 years and 230days.
Some ofsuch centenarians who are now alive are vegetarians, some eat alot ofmeat and drink wine, some are smokers, many love chocolate, and many dont like toexercise. But what they dohave incommon isthat they are generally happy and easy-going. And wethink its something tostick towhile the scientists are busy trying tounlock the secret toimmortality.
What doyou think will happen inthe future inthis field? Doyou believe science can really make people live forever? Wed love tohear your opinion inthe comments!
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Scientists Claim We Might Be Immortal in 17 Years This ...
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A prominent Canadian politician was recently alleged to have received a Communion wafer at a Catholic mass, put it into his pocket, and returned to his pew, to the horror of parishioners and media alike. Presumably he was a Calvinist, because the liturgical churches (Eastern Orthodox, Armenians, Ethiopian Orthodox, Episcopalians, Lutheran, and Roman Catholics) hold the bread and wine of the Eucharist in great reverence and maintain strict regulations as to how Communion elements are to be treated and to whom they may be distributed, if only to prevent disrespectful handling. These regulations are not modern inventions nor did they originate with superstitious monks in the Dark Ages. The present article looks at Christian regard for the Eucharist before AD 250 to show how the earliest believers shared the same practices as liturgical denominations today. The ancient writings are the common heritage of all Christians because they date from before the division into present-day denominations, even before the division separating Armenians and Ethiopians from the rest of Christendom in AD 451.
In the earliest Christian centuries, extremely respectful treatment was shown toward the bread and wine, which many denominations regard as the body and blood of Christ. The reason for this reverence appears in Justin, a Christian writer in the mid-second century who was later martyred for the Faith:
not as common bread and common drink do we receive these. . .we have been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.
Half a century earlier another martyr, Bishop Ignatius of Antioch, described the Eucharist as the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying but which causes that we should live forever in Jesus Christ. This was not the better-known Ignatius Loyola but his namesake fifteen centuries earlier, who legend has it was the little child whom Jesus said we must be like in order to see the kingdom of heaven.
In AD 217 Bishop Hippolytus in central Italy set out existing church practice as to how clergy were to continue to conduct worship services. He also intended it as a guide for laity to detect and complain when clergy departed from the liturgical heritage passed down from the time of the apostles. He wrote that the consecrated elements are not to be allowed to fall to the floor or be lost or treated carelessly; this is corroborated in the same era in Tunisia by the church father Tertullian. Nor were church mice and other animals permitted to consume them. The bread and wine were to be consecrated only according to a prescribed rite, which must be in an orderly manner, without unnecessary talking or arguing, and such that Christians preserve their good reputation and their worship practices not be ridiculed by non-Christians. Shortly afterward, Origen wrote that people are not to receive them in haphazard fashion. These, of course, are echoes of the Apostle Paul that church services must be conducted decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14.40).
This same Origen illustrated better than anyone else the great reverence Christians in the AD 240s held the sacramental elements. Unlike Ignatius or Hippolytus, he was not urging his hearers to show respect but was using one existing church practice as the grounds or analogy for other spiritual exercises. Origen was taking the example of the treatment of the Eucharist as an entrenched standard practice on which to build his argument for adopting an additional soul-building activity. Both he and his congregations took high respect for the sacramental elements for granted and as well-established:
You who are accustomed to take part in divine mysteries know, when you receive the body of the Lord, how you protect it with all caution and veneration lest any small part fall from it, lest anything of the consecrated gift be lost. For you believe, and correctly, that you are answerable if anything falls from there by neglect.
Because he traveled much throughout the eastern Mediterranean at the request of local bishops, and once to Rome, his statements probably described universal practice.
Partly because outsiders might not know how to demonstrate proper respect, it was forbidden to give Holy Communion to themas witness the allegations about the Canadian politician. From the earliest times, it was considered sinful to consume the sacrament in any unworthy manner. According to the Apostle Paul, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord and he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lords body. (1 Corinthians 11. 27, 29). This thought was repeated almost two centuries later by the church father Origen when he warned that Christians who partake unworthily will receive the Lords judgment, again as a proposition accepted as a given by all his hearers.
The Didache was a church manual and guide to the Christian life written in the late first century, when some apostles were still living. It limited participation in the Eucharist to people who had been baptized, citing Jesus command that we must not give what is holy to the dogs. Half a century or more later, Justin similarly confined Communion to people who believe Christian doctrine, had been baptized, and live as Christ had taught. Another sixty years later Hippolytus church manual would also admit to the Eucharist only people that had received Christian baptism. One of his charges against the leadership of a rival denomination within Christianity was that they accepted into membership people rejected by other sects and indiscriminately gave Communion to everybody.
To further safeguard against disrespect of the sacrament and prevent people from eating and drinking unworthily, there were restrictions even on the baptized. In the first century Saint Paul required searching ones conscience prior to receiving (1 Corinthians 11.28) while the Didache not long afterwards mandated confession of sins. It also required resolution of disputes with other people before participating.
Liturgical denominations have always provided further protection by requiring communicants to go to the front of the church and to receive the sacrament only from the hand of a duly authorized minister commissioned for this purpose. In AD 212 Tertullian referred to this procedure as already ancient and universally accepted. The sacrament is not put into trays as among Calvinists and passed along the pews like a collection plate where anyone can serve themselves, even an unbaptized visitor who has never been in church before.
Considering the veneration some churches accord the Eucharistic elementsas witness the protections surrounding themChristians of all denominations should show great respect for the sacrament and due consideration for the sensitivities and consciences of their hosts when at a Communion service in a church other than their own.
Dr. Brattston is a retired lawyer residing in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Further reading: Gospel of John 6.48-58 and 1 Corinthians 11.20-36.
The quotation of Origen is from pages 380 and 381 of Origen: Homilies on Genesis and Exodus translated by Ronald E. Heine (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1982).
The Medicine of Immortality - Spectrum
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From the earliest days, the Church has faced the perennial temptation to deny the goodness of material creation in general and of the human body in particular. The Platonic notion of the body as a prison from which the soul must escape has cropped up repeatedly throughout the Churchs history, only to be condemned every time someone proposed it.
We see one particular form of this error, the denial that Jesus really took on flesh and blood, reflected in the New Testament, and it is condemned in no uncertain terms: For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist (2 Jn 7). What is it that drives this temptation? And what makes the idea derived from it so pernicious that St. John calls those who embrace it antichrist?
The answer to the first question stems from two factors: the majesty of God and the messiness of creation. In the early centuries, God was seen as totally other than creation, in the words of 1 Timothy, immortal, invisible, the only God (1 Tim 1:17). God transcends the world and, unlike us, is not subject to change, to corruption, to pain and suffering, to anything that belongs to this world. Contrast this picture of an ineffable God with creation, particularly after the fall: we are born, we grow old, we suffer, we die. To many it seemed unfitting for God to experience birth and to have his diapers changed, much less to endure the shame and torture of one of the cruelest forms of execution ever devised by men. This is one aspect of the scandal of the Incarnation: that the God who transcends creation has joined himself so fully to it that he knows first-hand our challenges and our trials.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, whom the Church commemorates tomorrow, meditated on this mystery as he was being led to Rome for his own execution, and he condemns the denial of Christs real flesh and blood as forcefully as the Second Letter of John. In one of his letters Ignatius explains the importance of Christs actual flesh and blood:
But if, as some that are without God, that is, the unbelieving, say, that He onlyseemedto suffer (they themselves only seeming to exist), then why am I in bonds? Why do I long to be exposed to the wild beasts? Do I therefore die in vain? Am I not then guilty of falsehood against [the cross of] the Lord?
There are at least two dangers in this denial of Christs real humanity and suffering: it empties Christian suffering of its purpose, and it implies deception on Gods part. To take the latter point first, if Jesus only appeared to be human and to suffer if his looks are deceiving then the Gospels lie to us. Jesus has nothing in common with us, and his life was a mere show and a fraudulent one at that.
Closer to home for Ignatius, Jesus actual suffering in the flesh was closely bound up with his own impending martyrdom. In some mysterious way, Christs suffering takes up and incorporates the suffering of the members of his body:
By [the cross] He calls you through His passion, as being His members. The head, therefore, cannot be born by itself, without its members; God, who is [the Savior] Himself, having promised their union.
In his suffering and death, Christ manifests his solidarity with the human race, showing himself to be a God who knows our trials not in some distant, indifferent way, but personally and experientially.
If the sole purpose of the Incarnation were Christs solidarity with us in our suffering, then Christianity would be little more than divinely sanctioned masochism. But for Ignatius, suffering both Christs and ours is not an end in itself, but rather a bridge to eternal life. It is by our suffering that we participate in Christs own sacrifice and through it come to the glory of his resurrection. This is why one can rightly call a death at the jaws of lions a happy and peaceful one. The peace comes from the sure hope that death does not have the final victory Christ has conquered it through the resurrection.
Most of us are probably not ready to offer our bodies to the lions as Ignatius did, but we must remember that it was not on the basis of his own strength that he faced his death. He drew strength from feeding on Christs own Eucharistic flesh and blood, which he called the medicine of immortality. By feeding on this medicine we too can be strengthened to face our own trials and, God willing, pass through a happy death to the glory of the resurrection.
This article was originally written byBr. Isaac Augustine Morales, O.P., who was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He received a BSE in civil engineering from Duke University, an MTS with a concentration in biblical studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in New Testament from Duke University. Before joining the Order of Preachers, he worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Theology at Marquette University.
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St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Medicine of Immortality ...
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The world that was divided along the fault-lines of social, religious, economic, historical, geographical or ideological supremacy, is now speaking in one voice on the need to save humanity.
Around one-third of the world population is estimated to be under lockdown as humanity comes to terms with the pandemic Covid-19 after initial denial.
With over sevenlakh cases globally, people are restricted to their homes. The streets bear a deserted look, and the world has come to a standstill. Yet the world is in flux.
The crises of seclusion, isolation and social distancing is not only changing our perception for life, but has also forced us to ponder over the existing way of life itself.
Mystery Surrounding the Deadly Virus
Besides the worldwide criticism of WHO in the handling of the Covid-19 crises, the virus itself has been referred to as the Chinese Virus and it is widely believed that this virus originated in Wuhan, China.
In addition to this, there are also inputs on how this virus was predicted by a writer in her book written in the early 1980s. Daily, we keep on hearing new theories and information rendering the situation ambiguous.Global Politics
With many world leaders and personalities testing positive, the Coronavirus, being christened as the Chinese virus by world leaders like Donald Trump, is shaking up the global politics. It is set to change and possibly weaken the role of China in the modern world.
The US response has enraged many and China has gone on a propaganda offensive. One set of information says, in the year 2019, there were about 40 lakh Chinese tourists in Italy and these are said to have played a role in the propagation of the virus on such a large scale. There seems to have set in, a certain incredibility being attributed to Chinas role in the genesis and spread of this virus, thus throwing up questions on Chinas aspirations to be known as a world leader. Though we do not have much information on the source and genesis of this virus, what is very evident at this point of time, is that the whole world is in the grip of fear psychosis, and it is hell-bent on stopping this virus in its path of destruction and fury.
The Other Side
What is unique about this predicament, is that never before in modern history, have governmental and non-governmental organisations and individuals across the world, prioritised an issue and pledged their complete support to each other to see its resolution. The world before COVID-19 was immensely competitive, with countries competing with each other to establish their supremacy in world history and politics. From being the first to set up an asylum for humans on Mars, to spreading their ideology across the world, the priorities were always cantered on competition as opposed to the stress on cooperation in this post-COVID-19 world. The world that was divided along the fault-lines of social, religious, economic, historical, geographical or ideological supremacy, is now speaking in one voice on the need to save humanity.
Obsolete Vs Relevant
Another post-COVID 19 scenario that we are witnessing, is the increasing obsolescence and growing irrelevance of global organisations like the UN, which was established solely to eradicate poverty and war from the world.
Other than giving out statements on the progress of the virus across the world and updating the casualties and results, not much has been under the control of the UN or the WHO, in terms of battling and mitigating this pandemic. It seems WHO took too long to act and gave China a long pass. Both organisations need recasting. In fact, much more has been done by individual governments and the civil society, notably by the Indian government which has been taking strong positive and assertive steps to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and keep it in check. In fact, the WHO, lauding Indias past missives against small-pox and polio, has stressed upon the countrys fight against the virus as the crucial part of the battle.
Can India Show the Way?
For ages together, India has been propagating the idea of 'One-world family' or 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', and which was not really comprehended in its truest sense, by the western world. This pandemic has not only taught the essence of 'one-world family' to the entire world but also demonstrated its practical implementation for all to appreciate. All man-made divisions have been thrown out of the window by an unseen and unknown virus, reasserting the superiority of Nature, and its ability to blow all our plans to smithereens.
Additionally, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first leaders to establish a fund for the battle against the COVID-19, in coordination with its neighbouring countries. While other countries were busy battling the virus in their individual capacities, the head of the worlds largest democracy was reaching out to other nations to help them in this war against the pandemic. This has assertively pushed India into the league of a global leader, despite its conspicuous absence from the UN Security Council, not just politically but also culturally, as is evident from the endorsement of the Indian way of greeting, the Namaste, as being the safest way to greet in the present scenario.
The Indian Way of Life!
The way Italys health care system is groaning under Covid-19, it is a warning to the world. The west today values ancient Indian wisdom and its ayurvedic home remedies for an enhanced immune system,
Studies have shown that people with a stronger immune system have a higher chance of being cured of this virus. This explains the estimated whopping 300 per cent increase in the export of turmeric to Europeans who are looking for Indian spices to increase their immunity. Giloy, an ayurvedic herb, known to cure fever and flu in a matter of days, works wonders in the prevention of the Coronavirus. It is widely consumed in India for the treatment of viral cold and cough, and fever, and is known as the root of immortality, since it enhances the immune system like no other medication, in addition to its utility in the treatment of diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.
Copper and Brass have been an inseparable part of the Indian civilisation, and were, perhaps, the only materials to be used as utensils in India. The practice of drinking water from brass is inherent to all Indians, that we have forgotten the same, is another matter.
Meanwhile, it is believed that virus strains degenerate when brought in contact with copper surfaces and cannot survive on it, unlike other surfaces where it can survive for days together. Bill Keevil, Professor of Environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton, says that viruses land on copper and it just degrades them.
And finally, the practice of Namaste, being incorporated as the norm in the Coronavirus infested atmosphere, shows the relevance of the practice of avoiding physical contact, which, according to Indian tradition implies the accumulation of memories by physical contact, something which was to be avoided at all costs.
The Final War
This current pandemic should cause us to revisit our civilizational values and rethink our plan of development. Information technology and mass urbanisation must be guided by higher consciousness to nature and the earth, because, without the right foundation, no civilisation can endure.
Given its contribution to the war against the COVID-19, India is bound to be catapulted to the role of a global leader, also on account of its dauntless war against the pandemic, devoid of fear psychosis, and armed with fearless and practical solutions of lockdown and precautionary measures implemented by the government and executed to perfection by its dedicated medical, surveillance and security personnel, and the citizenry, as opposed to the ground realities in places like China or Italy or even the US, where the virus has wreaked havoc beyond ones imagination.
The world, in the wake of this disease, is turning to spirituality, which by my definition, means questioning ones origin, ones relation with Nature and fellow human beings, ones longevity and ones legacy for the future generation. All of a sudden, we have been introspecting into the kind of world we are going to bequeath to our children, questioning the way of life we have been leading.
Another example of this is the inadvertent focus on family life and family bonding as advocated in the Indian culture, during the long durations of forced isolation during the lockdown. Though the Western world had,all along, smirked at the emotional family orientation of the Indians, and were proud of their capitalist culture of independence, this lockdown has unveiled to them the joy of family bonding and its importance in the larger scheme of things. They are realising that the frantic race for economic sustenance had never been capable of giving them the psychological security and reassurance that the family, in these difficult times, has brought to them.
This Pandemic has further highlighted the fact that the excessively exalted notion of independence of individuals has fallen apart in favour of stress on interdependence, without which people cannot survive in this Post- COVID 19 world. In countries with a high per capita income and independence also, people have realised that ones survival is dependent on others. Money may not save your life but someones help may.
Also, even if one person chooses to throw caution to the wind, hundreds of others are affected. Hence, this virus has made us realise that no man is an island and that the world is an archipelago.
This brings me to the next observation that the faultlines of religion, region, language, race, nationality, ideology and culture, which had barricaded the world into small units, have finally begun to give away, with the greater identity of humanism overshadowing all other identities. This bringing together of the world on the basis of a common human identity and experience by this virus, in a way that even the UN was not able to do in all these years, augurs well for the coming future. This experience has fostered a culture of sharing and caring beyond an established identity, novel to the western world, enabling us to think uniformly of mitigating poverty, starvation, sickness and war.
The Last Lesson
Richard Louv, in his 1995 book, The last child in the woods, strives to tell us how exposure to Nature is essential to childhood development, and the emotional and physical health of children and adults and how we have gone so far away from nature in our thought and habit, that we have started to consume anything and everything, disregarding the thought of when, and what to eat. He talks of Nature- deficit disorder which is the cause of this degradation in our culture and behaviour where we have not spared even a creature from our gluttony. This is where India has a role to play. Maria Wirth talks of how India may need to send a yogi like Bodhidharma to China and teach them what to eat and what not to eat. There have also been talks of how no deadly viruses have emanated from Indian vegetarian foods.
While Indian civilisation has been mocked for the longest time, for the world to now acknowledge it as the most scientific, and beneficial one, is a validation of the age-old practices of this dharmic land. The Indian civilisation has been one, which has its fundamentals deeply rooted in science, medicine and something that modern civilisations lacked- common sense, all along misconstrued as superstition. The worldis actively switching to a healthier, and the more sensitive, Indian way of life, absorbing everything from turmeric latte to Sanskrit to yoga. To summarise, India seems to be the last child in the woods, we need to protect and promote it. For a better world, for a better future.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)
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India has played a vital role in the fight against coronavirus - WION