Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Message from Jupiter

Jupiter and her moons were as brightly visible and breathtaking as they could be last night. The brightest light was the planet herself, of course, but the most interesting and spectacular for me, was the astounding array of the planet’s moons. As any ancient astronomer might agree, they “necklaced” the planet in brilliant diadem, the moons intensely piercing, yet as only a pinprick in this gloom-benighted sphere. Easy to understand the effect on the ancients, to make a meaning of the phenomenon, to begin to believe that there may be other worlds, other forces at work. The confluence, or the uneasy truce that represents the mindsets of the poet and the scientist, have come a long way since these odd patterns in the sky became embedded in the primitive mind and beyond. In a way, the progress of human understanding is very comforting—it seems that the species does pretty well in finding ways to circumvent even the most heinous of diseases and conditions. Having lived through the horror of AIDS as an insider/by-stander, for instance, and considering how HIV is now a relatively manageable condition, it might be possible for just about any malady to be overcome, or at least managed. The people who worked so hard for recognition and understanding of the disease for so many years have in part been vindicated, with the caveat of course that the disease is NOT eradicated, and that there is continuous concern and hope for all who have or will have been touched by the disease. In my opinion, there are some helpful parallels between the AIDS epidemic and the fight to overcome Alzheimer’s Disease. The most fundamental, to me, is the way a large population can be motivated, through the tools of media intervention and issue awareness, and applied over time to create a “tipping point” of concern with public and private organizations. NOW is the time in our “war on ALZ” to make the funding commitment, the awareness commitment, and the PRIORITY to invest what it takes to do the job. The alternative is unacceptable...but it is up to those of us who are most affected and concerned to make the plan become a reality.

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