Some say the world
will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted
I hold with those who
But if it had to
I think I know enough
To say that for
is also great
And would suffice.
— Robert Frost
Illness has a bipolar nature: on the hot side are acute
contagious inflammatory illnesses and on the cold side chronic degenerative
illnesses. These are the twin dangers we must navigate on our life's journey, as
between Scilla and Charybdis, between Fire and Ice.
Throughout recorded history the fiery acute inflammatory
illnesses have predominated as the chief causes of death because the human
constitution always tended to the warm side, thus making us susceptible to
inflammations. But in the brief course of the past 100 years the illness
pattern of all previous recorded history has suddenly reversed itself Now in
all developed nations, the cold illnesses prevail: cancer, heart disease and
stroke in adults; and asthma, allergies, and neurological and emotional
dysfunction in our children.
What is the deeper meaning of this sudden and profound
reversal? From 1900 to the 1950's the health and survival of children improved
because the cooling and densifying effect of modern industrial and intellectual
civilization made them less susceptible to dying from the acute contagious
inflammations which had claimed their lives throughout history. After a brief
period of healthy balance during the 1950's, children's health has worsened
since 1960 due to the further intensification of the same cooling and
densifying forces which improved their health from 1900 to 1950! We were on the
right track, but now we've overshot the mark. We are out of balance!
Children are the canaries in the coal mine. Their distress
is crying to us to wake up to the health-weakening and spirit-deadening aspects
of modern life so that we will understand how to protect and nurture the
delicate growth and unfolding of their individual spirit. This spiritual
unfolding is nothing less than a child's entire developmental process! What we
call brain development, neurological maturation and the like are the
all-important physical effects resulting from a healthy and balanced spiritual
Like water for fishes, warmth for humans is the
indispensable medium which supports and nourishes our humanity at every level
of its existence.
Through warmth we connect. We connect to our family, our
friends, our teachers, our co-workers, to all humanity, to animals, to plants,
to the universe!
A growing child must find its inner ground, its center of
warmth, and from this solid ground it seeks to connect to other sources of
warmth, in an ever-widening circle around itself, from immediate family all the
way to God. But today's child has difficulty finding its connection to the
world when that world is portrayed by modern science and education as an
arrangement of atoms and molecules, devoid of any higher meaning or purpose,
and devoid of any human warmth.
Physicians can learn marvelous truths from patients, if they
have the ears to hear. Recently a mother told me what her weary, uncomfortable
eight year old child said around 2 a.m. of his third night of fever (it having
just occurred to him), "Mom, you know what I need? I need some new ground
to stand on."
One of the most effective ways to reverse the increasing
cooling and densifying trend of our children's souls and bodies, and of our
own, is to realize the healing, enlightening, spirit-permeating power of
feverish inflammatory illness. Seen truly, inflammation is never the real
illness; it is always the attempt of our immune system to permeate our inner
opaqueness and coldness with the spirit's healing warmth and light. When this
attempt is overzealous and threatens our life or functional capacity, then we
can be very grateful that modern medicine has empowered us with the tools and
techniques to suppress and control inflammation. But we must use that power
with discretion! To suppress all inflammation indiscriminately with
antibiotics, vaccinations and anti-inflammatory drugs contributes enormously to
a condition of spirit-rejecting density of body and soul. Health is balance
after all; thus we must learn to avoid overshooting that balance with our
overzealous efforts to "conquer" illness.
The surging consumer interest in Waldorf education and in
alternative medicine in our country is a sign that our paradigm in medicine and
in education is shifting.
What is most urgently needed is a widespread awareness of
the critical difference between healing illness and suppressing it. Healing
empowers our spirit; suppression cools down the spirit's activity in the body.
Repeated suppression may hinder the capacity of our human spirit to express
itself in us, or may transform our acute illnesses into chronic ones. The
spirit renews as well as destroys, and now that we have the power in our
technology to modify even the spirit's power, we must acquire the discernment
to use that power wisely, or else cause our children and ourselves great
The task of healing ourselves, our children and the Earth is
one and the same. To accomplish this will require a revolution in all aspects
of modern science, and especially in agriculture, medicine, psychology,
education and parenting. It will require enormous enthusiasm and good will. It
will require of us nothing less than a practical, down-to-earth embodying of
the spirit's fiery, renewing power.
Philip Incao, M.D. is
a well recognized author and lecturer with a medical practice in Denver and
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