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Reality, Grief, and Hope


By Arvin Gouw, Ph.D.

Cancer InCytes Magazine - Volume 4, Issue 1, Summer 2015

Published June 30, 2015



We often do not want to hear about unpleasant news, whether it is child starvation, genocide, or human trafficking. We know these things are going on, but sometimes hesitate to learn more about them or read the stories of individuals affected. Why? Probably not because we don’t care, but because we feel that there’s nothing we can do about it. In the end, we are powerless to change anything, so why make ourselves depressed?


It is easier for us to just preoccupy ourselves with our immediate domain of family, job, and entertainment - anything but the reality that there is suffering ‘out there’. But the victims of human trafficking and social injustice are often not any different than you or I, except for their misfortune of being born into worse circumstances. That is the disturbing reality of the world that we live in. Have we dehumanized victims of social injustice to mere statistics and demographics to protect ourselves?


When we truly hear their stories and put ourselves in their shoes, we have to face something that none of us wants to face: grief. Grief that there is true, real suffering in this world. Psychologists and neuroscientists may be able to explain the neural firing patterns of grief and what happens hormonally, but we don’t need to know all that to know that we want to avoid grief. We also know that grief really is something that can move us. The question is, whether it moves us to avoid disturbing stories about suffering, or moves us forward to overcome them. Is it true that we cannot end world hunger, global human trafficking, and everything that’s wrong in this world? Yes, at least not for now, and these are things that cannot be solved by one person.


But without even being aware of reality and grieving for it, there will be no hope. We have nailed the coffin on a better world if we do not even have hope for change. Cancer InCytes cannot solve all of world’s problems, but our team and writers have taken a stance and contributed what we can for a start. You might not join our battle, but at least I hope you let reality and grief set in, because only then can we begin to take steps towards change.





Arvin Gouw, Ph.D.

Senior Editor, Biological Sciences


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