In the last few weeks, our focus at Darkwood Brew has shifted from the macro (universe) to the micro (DNA and cells). This week, I was again awed as I listened to Darkwood Brew guest Professor Gayle Woloschak describe the extraordinary uses of nanotechnology in the fight against cancer. Prof. Woloschak and her research team are developing methods of engineering nanoparticles to specifically target cancer cells and deliver medication only to those targeted cells. For example, the team is investigating ways to program nanoparticles to detect specific proteins (found only in cancer cells), home in on the cells, locate the nucleus within each cell, and deliver medication or destroy the cells themselves. A benefit of this treatment method is that unlike current chemotherapeutic methods which end up destroying a great many healthy cells in addition to unhealthy cells, this delivery method would preserve and protect healthy cells. Other nanotechnology possibilities in the medical field include organ, tissue, and cell repair, tumor reduction, virus elimination, and much more. Big potential from very small, not even microscopic, particles.

All this talk about cell functioning has me considering the ways in which the whole of humankind is like the human body itself. Humankind is diverse and dependent on the delicate interplay of its parts, requiring both individual and collective functioning. In the human body, cells are the basic living units. Cells group together, forming specialized tissues, and tissues group together to form organs. The health of the organs depends on the health of the cells that make up those organs. When the majority of cells that comprise an organ are healthy and functioning properly, that organ is likely to be healthy and functioning properly. Likewise, when the majority of cells that comprise an organ are dysfunctional or diseased, that organ is likely to be dysfunctional as well. To clarify, I’m not suggesting that each of us is a cell that is either functional or dysfunctional, healthy or diseased. Rather, I am drawn to the metaphor that each entity within the body, from cells to organs, acts both independently and collectively to either support or threaten the viability of the whole.

In what ways are we supporting the viability of the whole of humankind? Are there ways in which we are threatening that viability? What impact do our individual thoughts, actions, and choices have on the collective? What impact do our collective, institutional decisions have on the overall health of humanity? At the end of this week’s episode, host Eric Elnes articulated a vision in which each of us can exert a powerful and positive influence on the whole by using our vocations (our “sweet spots” – that calling about which we are most passionate) to spread God’s love in the world. Not by “preaching Jesus” or prosthelytizing, but by treating each person we come into contact with…each client, each patient, each customer…as if that person were Jesus Christ himself. How might the whole of humanity benefit if we could program ourselves to do that?

In the fight against cancer, even the tiniest of particles, like those being engineered in Prof. Woloschak’s lab, is capable of wielding considerable influence on the health of the whole. Is the same not true for each of us?

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