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A Very High Peak To Climb
May 1, 2013

On Sunday, I requested a friend of mine to babysit my two young boys so I could attend my cousin’s wedding. A few days later, I called the same friend, this time so I could attend the funeral of my dear aunt. The paradox of life became clear once again; one the one hand there was a person stepping into a new stage of his life with a lifetime companion, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do them part, and on the other hand there was another person breathing her last, being released from her duties in this world and – we hope – stepping into a better life…

Life is indeed full of contrasts and surprises.

Something that is no more a surprise in our lives but still as scary as it was first discovered is cancer – the disease-whose-name-must-not-be-mentioned, as in the case of Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. “The long illness” or “the bad disease” are some of the other euphemisms for cancer which almost all nations have developed as none of us are really willing to sully our conversations with possible implications that it may bring into our imaginations. For almost every one of us knows someone who has been suffering from it, or we have already lost him or her because of it.

Ali Fethi Toprak in this issue takes matters further with his analogy of cancer as anarchy. What the cancer disease does in our body is, in a sense, no different than what anarchy causes in the society. Just as “anarchy cuts and throws away norms and laws that organize social life, one by one, thus destroying the order and leading to mischief and rebellion, cancer breaks genetic rules that organizes cell proliferation and eliminates pathways that suppress tumor formation. Thus, it eradicates the order and triggers chaos and malignancy. Again, cancer works against the life of the body without considering the rights of other cells,” writes Kocabas in his “Cancer: Cellular Anarchy” article in this issue. He also notes that genetically engineered T cells offer us a medical hope for healing from cancer, and that patients should never give up on prayers and always keep spirits high, which is ultimately the greatest strength in fighting against it.

Overcoming troubles or diseases, or at least standing up honorably in the face of their danger, is perhaps bound with attaining “immortality,” as described in this issue’s lead article. “Souls of immortality” Gülen writes, “never fall into despair… Neither the darkness of menacing nights, nor the multiplicity of accumulated problems can discourage them. Even if they were faced with Noah’s flood, they would walk away from it without a drop touching their feet.” This portrayal is indeed a very high peak to climb, but aren’t we mankind perfectly equipped potentially for this challenge?

Indeed, we as human beings are well equipped and have much to offer the world, both intellectually and technologically, when compared to the past. However despite having the upper hand in the fields of science and technology, our environment is still struggling and suffering due to our negligence. Every year, 14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into our oceans and as a result, 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are being killed. Erhan Yenilmez gives insight into the current state of affairs and how we can work together to protect our environment.