Hope lies in dreams | MHAM Blogging Challenge
Today’s prompt asks us to interpret a quote from Jonas Salk.
Context matters, so I did a bit of research and discovered that Salk was originally quoted in 1977. He is stating that wisdom and good will have been replaced by dreams, imagination, and courage. Here is the complete quote:
Neither wisdom nor good will is now dominant. Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.
Wisdom is knowledge based on the combined experience of many generations. It is valuable as a reference point and has its place. However, humans have a tendency to rely so much on wisdom that they lose sight of new opportunities. People often say, “That’s not the way it’s done.” or “We’ve always done it this way.'” I believe this is the use of wisdom to which Salk is referring.
How many times do we say, “They mean well” when someone offers us unsolicited advice about the latest migraine “cure”? Having good intentions is fine. At some point those good intentions become worthless when based on outdated information (i.e. wisdom misused).
The conventional wisdom about Migraine is that “stressed out people” get them and that “taking a pill” and “eating better” will solve the problem. I know lots of people with honorable intentions who don’t know squat about migraine. They would be better off if they kept their mouths shut. Wisdom and good will haven’t gotten us any closer to a cure, let alone an effective treatment.
That doesn’t mean they are worthless. If the researchers studying Migraine don’t understand the combined wisdom of everyone else who has studied migraine, they might end up making some of the same mistakes. They need to know what works and doesn’t work in the present so they can make progress in the future. If these same scientists don’t care about Migraine and the people affected, then their work becomes just another job. Compassion (i.e. good will) for migraineurs should drive them to find a cure.
Salk’s use of the word “dreams” can be replaced with “vision” or “goal”. He likely wasn’t referring to the dreaming we all do in our sleep. Instead, he refers to the ability to envision a world that matches your desire. In the case of Migraine, it’s our ability to imagine a world in which Migraine has a cure.
Getting to that world without Migraine will take some creative thinking. The old solutions don’t work. Maybe the current understanding of pain and brain biology isn’t accurate. We need researchers willing to push the boundaries of science in order to make new discoveries.
Pushing limits takes guts. In some cases, challenging the established knowledge can be viewed as scientific heresy. It can get you fired, shunned, and blacklisted. We need researchers with enough courage to “risk it all” in order to find a cure for Migraine. Galileo had courage when he challenged the Church teachings about the earth and sun. Given the level of stigma against migraine, finding a cure just might take that much courage.
Salk was right.
Good intentions and conventional wisdom have their limits in pursuit of a cure. It will take visionaries who can think outside-the-box and are fearless in the face of opposition. I sure hope those men and women are sitting in laboratories today, feeling the pressure to relieve the suffering of one billion people.
The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge
is organized by the American Headache and Migraine Association.
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