IISMAS / Publications / International Jour...nscultural Medicine / International Jour...al Medicine - no. 5

International Journal of Migration and Transcultural Medicine - no. 5

Volume 1, no. 5, May/December 2007

International Journal of Migration and Transcultural Medicine - no. 5

2007

30

November

Editorial Aldo Morrone

BEYOND SKIN AND MIND

We don't take into account the ideals of freedom, justice and dignity for all human beings, starting from those who are labelled as useless.

We live in a world of show and appearance: values are being lost behind the bright lights of the media, where people babble on about solidarity.

It would appear that we have abandoned that reverential respect, which is the essential condition to be able to take care of life and of its fragility.

Should this process continue, over half of the animal and vegetal species existing at present   could definitively disappear before the end of the 21 st century.

We notice indifference and carelessness in regard to the protection of our common house, the planet Earth.

A great number of persons, several institutions and communities have lost faith in the capacity of the human being to regenerate and to plan a better future.

We can see everywhere a wish for peace being expressed, a peace in justice, in a universal perspective, of great respect for all the species living on Earth and beyond.

This new cultural, social and political paradigm finds its roots in the respectful participation of the greatest possible number of persons and populations, in the appreciation of the differences, in the acceptance of the complementarities and in the convergence constructed by welcoming   the differences of persons, cultures, models of production, traditions and of the various meanings of life.

We feel the need of a new "ethos", but what sort of   "ethos" do we need ?   What is it that opposes the lack of care, the lack of interest, the abandonment ?

It is " care" that opposes "carelessness" : care represents an attitude of commitment, of assumption of responsibility, of acquaintance, of emotional involvement with the "other".

  Moreover, care, as a unitary structural whole, is situated, existentially and aprioristically, "before" any "behaviour" or "situation", that is to say that it has always existed in each of these phenomena.

According to Heidegger care denotes a fundamental ontologico-existential phenomenon. In other words, a phenomenon which makes human existence possible just because of that "human".

The human being is a being who takes care, or better, his essence is to be found in care.

This means   that we can find care in the primary root of the human being, before he says or does anything at all. Without care he would therefore cease to be human.

Taking care of persons means being on intimate terms with them, welcoming them,   respecting them, giving them quietness and peace.

Taking care of persons means to become attuned to them, to "auscultate" their rhythm   and to be in harmony with them.

We all feel linked to each other, forming a single organic whole, different and always including, never excluding.

The essential is invisible to our eyes, it can be seen well only by our heart.   It is the feeling that makes important for us persons, things and situations. This deep feeling is called   "care".

It was not the struggle for survival   to guarantee the continuation of life and individuals until now. It was the cooperation and co-existence among them.

The hominids of millions of years ago became humans inasmuch they kept sharing among them crops and hunting products, sharing at the same time feelings of affection.

The language itself that characterizes human beings originates from inside the dynamism of love and sharing.

Vital tenderness

Vital tenderness is synonym of essential care. Tenderness is the affection that we give to persons and the care that we take of existential situations.

Tenderness is the care without obsessions: it includes work too, not as a simple utilitarian production, but as an activity that shows the creativity of the individual.

It does not give up rigour in knowledge. It is a sentimental feeling that, in its own way, is also knowledge. In fact we "know" only when we set our affection on somebody or something, and when we feel involved in what we wish to know.

Tenderness can and must co-exist with an extreme commitment to a cause, as shown in an exemplary and inspiring way by Che Guevara (1928-1968). We remember what he said once: " You need to get tough, but without sacrificing tenderness".

Tenderness   emerges from the fact itself of existing together with others in the world.

We do not exist, we co-exist, we live together   and are in community with the more immediate realities.

Blaise Pascal introduced an important distinction to help us to understand care and tenderness: l'esprit de finesse   and l'esprit de géométrie. L'esprit de finesse is the spirit of delicacy, of sensitivity, of care and tenderness.   L'esprit de géométrie   is the calculating and activistic spirit, interested in efficiency and power.

The essential caresse

The caresse is one of the highest expressions of care:   is essential   when it changes into an attitude, in a-way-of-being that qualifies a person in his wholeness, in his psyche, in his way of thinking , in his willpower, in his inner self , in the relationships that he establishes.

The radical compassion

This last irradiation of care, "compassion", represents the greatest contribution offered by Buddhism to humanity. This radical compassion is considered a personal virtue of Buddha, whose real name was Siddharta Gautana, who lived between the 6 th and 5 th centuries BC.

  It is not passive, but highly active, it is the ability to share the other's passion, together with the other.   In Hinduism we find "Ahiminsa" which corresponds to the Buddhist compassion. It is the behaviour of non-violence, through which we try to spare all living beings

any suffering or constraint.

Many Hindu sacred texts teach how to treat all living beings with the same care and the same respect with which we treat our children.   Gandhi was the modern genius of   "Ahiminsa".

Judaism and Christianity know "Rahamim", which means mercy. In Hebrew   Rahamim means having a "visceral behaviour",   which signifies being able to feel the other's reality, above all that of the person who suffers. (The parable of the merciful Father).

Care of the other

The other's face makes indifference impossible, the other's face forces me to take position because he talks, pro-vokes, e-vokes, con-vokes.

Above all the face of the poor, of the sick person, of the person suffering from a mental disease, of the marginalised and excluded person.

Face and expression let always out a pro-posal in search of an answer.   A responsibility then emerges, the obligation to give answers.

Care of the great transit, death

Entropy manifests itself everywhere, also within our life's tissue, until it wears completely our energetic wealth. At that point one dies. It is the end of man-body. But what does death mean ?

Perhaps the possibility of a full realization of our latent dynamisms, which did not succeed to burst out, being conditioned by time and space.

Death could have the function to let all barriers fall, so that man can become free from all ties,   and his inner impulse   can be realized according to the infinite logic.

At death therefore the real birth of a human being takes place.   He implodes and explodes towards the fullness of his identity. He turns back to be "star dust".

We all depend on the stars

Five billion years ago a star cloud in the shape of a disc was floating along one of Orion's arms, within the Milky Way. It condensed until it formed an immense star called Tiamat. Around 4.6 billion years ago it exploded, changing into a supernova. From its materials the Sun and the Planets, among which the Earth, were born.

We and the stars: life begins with the process of formation of the stars. We are composed of star dust: each   atom of all elements present in our body, with the exception of hydrogen , was produced inside the stars, becoming then disseminated   in the universe through great star explosions; it was then recycled to become part of ourselves.

The Sun is a star, one of the 200 billion similar stars that form, in their whole, a system in the shape of a disc called Milky Way or Galaxy.

At the very centre of our life we have the supernovae, stars that, exploding, disseminate in space the raw materials   from which new generations of stars, plants and living beings will originate.

99.86% of the mass of the solar system   is today concentrated in the Sun itself, and two thirds of the remaining part are contained in the giant planet Jupiter. All the other objects of the solar system (including the Earth) form all together less than 0.05% of the mass of the entire solar system.

The oldest stars, formed by the primordial material produced al the birth of the Universe at the time of the Big Bang, are composed almost completely   of hydrogen and helium, and contain only minimal traces of a few other light elements.

The youngest stars, formed more recently of recycled   material, contain larger amounts of heavier elements.

Our history is the history of 0.05 % of the star material producing planets and persons.

There would be no planets like the Earth and no form of life like ours,   without the clouds of gas mixed with debris and star dust, produced by the preceding star generations.

What is life ? Its complexity and its simplicity are intriguing.

There is an enormous diversity as a result of the combination of a small number of common ingredients.

The four basic elements of which we are composed: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen,   can develop into complex visible forms and   give rise to flowers with thousands of forms and colours, to animals such as birds, fish and mammals, to mountains and human beings, again showing thousands of colours.

How is it possible ? Today another discipline, the Evo-Demo (evolutionary development biology), helps us to investigate the natural history and the genetic determination of the astonishing mechanisms responsible for the construction of the biological individual.

What is the relationship between ontogenesis, the biology of development, and phylogenesis,   the evolution of the species ?

Who does not know the seven notes, from which both Beethoven's 9 th Symphony and Venditti's Roma capoccia originate ?

Of what are we composed? Disregarding helium, the two commonest elements of the solar system   are hydrogen and oxygen, which on Earth are combined to form large quantities of water, an element essential for life, as we know it. They are also the two commonest elements of our body: 65% of our body is formed of water.

CHON are the commonest elements in the clouds of gas and dust in space.

The importance of a grain of star dust !

The star dust is the key for the existence of complex molecules in the Universe, and therefore for the existence of life itself.

Minute grains of solid material expelled by the stars, gradually as when a red giant shakes off its external layers, or in a violent manner as it happens with the explosion of novae and supernovae, either form the materials for areas where a chemical inter-stellar activity takes place, or become the seeds transporting complex molecules from one part to another of the Galaxy.

Without the global involvement of everybody there is no evolution of the Universe.

Starting from this, we must think cosmocentrically, and act ecocentrically. That is to say: to think in harmony with the entire Universe.

These reflexions evoke issues of fundamental importance:

- complexity

- thoughtfulness, tenderness

- reality, because of the interweaving of its relationships, is by its nature complex complexity must be confronted by logic, dialogic and pericoretic:   each reality interacts with all the others in each point and under all circumstances.

In view of the fact that we have a common origin and that we find ourselves all reciprocally connected, we all have a common destiny and a common open future.

As parts of the Universe we are all brothers and sisters: elementary particles, quark, stones, snails, animals, human beings, stars, galaxies.

Long ago we were all together, in the form of energy and original particles, in the primordial sphere, then inside the giant red stars, and then again in our Milky Way, in the Sun and on Earth.

We are all formed of the same elements. And, as living beings,   we have the same genetic code of the other living beings: amoebas, dinosaurs, sharks, monkeys, Australopithecus, contemporary homo sapiens/demens. A brotherly/sisterly link unites us all, as St. Francis had mystically foreseen in the 13 th century.

We form the great community of the Universe. We have a common origin, certainly, and an identical common destiny, within which the personal destiny of each living being is associated.

No one of us is alone in the heart of   the Earth, and.... it is not nightfall right away.


CWM