Friday, October 5, 2018

Insight: Panacea, or the next best thing

By Lorraine Glowczak

According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a panacea is “a remedy for all ills or difficulties; a cure-all.”

Although it is true that solutions to all society’s struggles and problems have yet to be found, there
are a few of us wannabe alchemists who are still trying to concoct an elixir to life. Before you are tempted to laugh or criticize these few pseudoscientists, be sure you are not one of us.

For example: Have you looked for ways to lower your risk for Alzheimer’s? What about that perfect diet that not only helps you maintain your weight but also energizes you, helps you to live longer – and reduces anxiety, too? What about working towards the cure for cancer?

Whew! I thought so. I was worried I might be the only one in search of, not necessarily a panacea – but actionable steps toward helping to balance the many ills in the world. However, since the facts are stacked against any perfect remedies, how shabby would it be for this alchemist, and others like me, to settle for the next best thing?

For those who may not know, Britain’s University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry states, “……the introduction of alchemy to the west came in the 8th century when the Arabs brought it to Spain. From here it quickly spread to the rest of Europe.

The Arabian belief was that metals are made up of mercury and sulfur in varying proportions. Gold was seen as the perfect metal and all others were less perfect, an idea popular among western alchemists. It was a very popular idea indeed, that these lower metals could be transmuted into gold….”

Although the alchemists were not successful in converting less important metals into the sought after soft, malleable and highly prized metal, their efforts “led to the manufacture of amalgams and advances in many other chemical processes and the apparatus required for them……leading to what is now, the science of Chemistry.”

Which, many might say – is the next best thing.

This leads me back to solving all the countless troubles and misfortunes. Our efforts may not create gold but may convert a few obstacles into advantages for some.

The Chef and Nutrition Director, in the effort to provide locally grown foods for students in the RSU14 lunch program may not solve the world hunger issues, but they certainly transformed the lives of a few students (see front page). Perhaps last Thursday’s Make Shift Coffee House will not turn the Titanic of division around immediately, but its success may slow down the speed of the boat (see page 5).

If we can’t obtain a panacea or create a true elixir for all the difficulties we face – I for one think it may be okay to accept the next best thing.

Here’s to all the alchemist of life! Keep up the good work.

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