Invading, spreading and destroying: Terrorism is cancer. A malignant growth, it corrupts healthy cells, yielding fear, pain and death. It lays waste to resources and lives. Every place, every organ of every society, is threatened. Nonetheless, just as we are winning the battle against other cancers, disease-by-disease, year-by-year, we know how to destroy this illness.
It will take time and research. We must understand, at the deepest level, the disease’s cause, what fosters its growth, and, therefore, its treatment. This will take money, thought and tremendous effort. We will not stop this illness by panic or rash acts, which further destabilize nations and peoples, and make the cancer worse.
At the same time, the treatment of this illness will at times be severe. Aggressive therapies are required, and we must not hesitate to act where it can save lives. We need to balance the benefit of action with side effects.
All cancers start from small numbers of mutated cells, which multiply. Terrorism is a pathology of sick individuals who spread their illness of hate. As the answer to breast cancer is not to remove all breasts, so the parts of our society where terrorism begins are not naturally diseased. The solution is to stop the degeneration of healthy tissue and when malignancy grows, cut it out.
Thus, prevention is critical. Just as smoking causes lung cancer, so poverty, ignorance, and isolation lead to sick societies that breed this disease, which slaughters the innocent.
Most critically, revolutionary advances in treating cancers of the human body have required the work and coordination of scientists, doctors and citizens, all over the world. Countries everywhere, are involved in finding cures. In the same way, fighting, preventing and healing terrorism will require every society to work together. This is not a time for flag-waving or blame. This is a time for sane international action.
This horrible disease attacks us all. No one is immune. No society truly healthy. As the world came together in the “war on cancer,” so we must come together in a “world war on terrorism.” We start with anger, pain and fear; we will move forward with determination, collaboration and a love for all mankind.
James C. Salwitz is an oncologist who blogs at Sunrise Rounds.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com