Are you Cancerous?

Are you Cancerous?

If you take a telescope and look upwards and outwards, you’ll soon gain a healthy perspective on how small, how insignificant we and our planet are in the grand scale of our galaxy and the universe.

You’ll be similarly amazed if you take a microscope and look inwards; there’s an entire universe of cells, atomic and sub-atomic matter and energy that pervades anything you look at.

Everything it seems, is part of something else.

Nice to know, but what has this do with with your perhaps being cancerous? (Metaphorically speaking of course.)

We’re not aware of our connectedness

Well, most of us don’t think of ourselves as being a part of something else.  We think of ourselves as individuals that stand alone and apart from our environment; we see ourselves as separate from and having no effect on the physical structures around us and the people that walk past us in our daily lives.

Of course most people get they are connected or even “belong” to “structures” outside of themselves e.g. family, company and country, but most people do not walk around with a profound sense of their integral connectedness to the world beyond their close friends and family.

Your body as metaphor

Your body is a great metaphor.  At one level it is one entity—one human body.

Look inwards and you’ll find it consists of billions of smaller structures, all keeping the greater organism —you—alive and well by doing exactly what they’re supposed to do for the optimum performance of the other cells, organs and systems within the body, and therefore of your body as a whole.

Imagine now we’re in a Disney movie and every cell in your body was a little personality that could talk.  We could imagine a nice little drama that could unfold as follows: In the opening, we would see a happy “country” (your body) that is populated by hundreds of “villages” that were populated with individual “people” (cells) each with a conscious awareness of their actions and the consequence of their actions to all of the other villages and to the “country” (your body) as a whole.

… some cells forget their connectedness

But as the story unfolds, some people (cells) in some villages would forget or lose their sense of their part in the greater whole, and start to function for their own sake.  You can imagine the drama that would play out, and how this could be successfully resolved if it were a Disney movie.

The cells would be shown or told the consequences their selfish actions were having to other “villages”, and that their “selfish” behavior would not only kill the other villages, but eventually also themselves as they needed the survival of the other villages for their own survival.

This happens in real life of course.  It’s called cancer and rarely does this have a happy ending for the overall organism including the cancer cells which die along with the rest of the body.

Behaving like a cancer cell

This is a fitting metaphor for humanity as a whole as each of us is like one individual cell in the human body, except without a profound awareness of being part of an integral whole organism (the human race or the planet earth itself), and also without any awareness of the consequences of our actions on others and to the world.

In this respect, perhaps most of us are a bit cancerous – metaphorically speaking that is.

If you are, the good news is that you definitely have the power to heal yourself and help make the world a better place.  You can start by simply thinking about and observing how you impact the people around you and your environment. (You’ve heard about the Butterfly Effect?)

Notice any cost of serving yourself to others, your communities and the environment?

How does your life, your work and career serve the greater good of your friends and family, your communities and the world?

If not perhaps you’re acting like a cancer cell.  Thankfully you can change … if you want to.

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.

Frederick Buechner


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