Saturday, May 14, 2011

2011.05.15 Paradoxical Metaphor from Biology

2011.05.15 Paradoxical Metaphor from Biology

We have so many wars we don’t know what to do with them all. Worse than old Mother Hubbard!

The latest is the war on infections, a bacteriological war, a “good” war. Still, I wonder if germs will ever befriend their destroyers or if we will ever accept death as part of ongoing life.

Don’t misunderstand me. I fear infection and bacteria and impotent anti-biotics, too. And I want to live healthy for as long as I can.

In the May 12 Boston Globe I read about “persisters.” Persisters are “bacteria that evade medications by slipping into a zombielike state, then mysteriously reawaken to cause new infections.” (Carolyn Y. Johnson, A1) Know any people or groups like this?

What awakens persisters of the bacteriological kind? Sugar. Imagine!

But in people a degree of tenacity and persistence is a good thing. It’s all in how you persist and for what? Life lived is risky.

The strategy of “persisters” is to play dead and evade the good guy anitbiotics’ detection. Clever indeed. Persisters don’t fight they just dissociate. This is how some children survive in families. They are good and quiet; they escape notice and maybe a blow or a slap or a curse. Clever—for a time.

The paradoxical metaphor is the more asleep you make yourself the more you miss— of BOTH good and evil.

I know a woman who lived dying like a clam until bacteria awakened her to illness and she came alive, discovered people loved her, chose life, then died quite alive.

Awakened, you could come out of your coma and face possible danger; or you could stay alert enough to see life in whatever tiny manifestation it might present itself. And choose it.

Which I believe is what God, according to the biblical deuteronomist, had in mind with this wisdom: “See! I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life... that you may live.”

Would that we could choose life for everyone, even bacterial types. We might perhaps have chosen to put a dent in our American persistence and brought Osama bin Laden to trial and justice instead of death.

Impossible vision? Persist in it anyway.