A (Grim) Fable Of Woe

Once upon a time ...

There was this single cell, alone in a body of billions of other cells.

And it was unhappy and malcontent of its lot in life.

Now, in that body of billions of cells, and in order for that body to function, there was this assignment of specific roles to be played by each given cell - all for the common good of all.

Some were meant for infrastructure. Some were meant for protection. Some were meant for defense. Some were meant for repair. Other were meant to digest and absorb foodstuffs, or take in oxygen. Yet others were meant as roads and highways to keep the flow of nutriments and oxygen going to all cells. More others were meant as the motor of said vital flow.

Hence, some were workers, some were soldiers, some were mechanics, some were maintenance technicians, some were harvesters, some were waste managers, some were distributors, some were traffic comptrollers, some were programmers, some were entrepreneurs, some were decision-makers - and so on and so forth, altogether essential for the body-organism to thrive, prosper, adapt, reproduce and, through its progeny, evolve.

Again - all for the common good and perpetuation of all.

Except for the single, malcontent and unhappy cell of this story.

You see - this cell had come to resent rules and regulations. It fell in love with the idea of being able to do what it wanted to do, whenever it wanted to do it, and regulations be damned.

It also rejected the notion of long-term thinking - what it perceived as a slow, inane and petrificating way of looking at the world - in favor of pure short-term thinking.

The here and now - and maybe tomorrow, next week and/or the next three months, but that is it! - is what truly mattered in its life.

In other words: this cell had decided that it was in it for itself - first and foremost.

So this single, malcontent and unhappy cell started multiplying on its own, disregarding any signals it received from the regulators to stop.

But still the malcontent cell kept on growing.

Into two cells. Then four. Then eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, one hundred and twenty eight, and thus more and more and more.

Soon enough, the one original malcontent and unhappy cell was now a growing crowd of equally-minded rebel cells - in fact, many of them having already become even more self-centered and self-serving than the original one.

Of course, the other neighboring cells came to be disturbed by such outrageous behavior of this crowd of rebel cells - why, these uncout ones ate much more than their fare share of the food available, most of what energy they produced they kept for themselves, their presence displaced or even stiffled other normal-behaving cells and - adding insult to injury - they left a lot of waste around and about them.

So police, ordely, maintenance, repair and decision-maker cells were called in to stop such reckless, utterly selfish nonesense.

But the rebel cells, now so many clumped together in a growing mass, came to be rather crafty and smooth-tongued cells.

Upon being confronted by the aforementioned authorities and their assistants, they pleaded victimhood:

"Growth serves the common good!" They chanted mendaciously. "Do not all tissues grow thus? Does the overall body-organism not grow thus? Growth is prosperity!" They continued, in earnest. "Sure, we use local resources - we have to! But through our growing numbers, how much more proteins, sugars and macromolecules we generate than what we take in." Regaining their composure, they then delivered their ultimate argument: "Give us the proper tools and the means, lend us more energy and foodstuff, let us employ other cells, and you will see how our growth will benefit all those cells in our neighborhood - for indeed, a good portion of all the proteins, sugars and other macromolecules we generate can and will be returned to those cells we will employ which, in turn, will likewise share in the general wealth and well-being of all cells in the end!"

At first unsure, the decision-making cells nonetheless came to be enthralled by such apparently unassailable argument in favor of growth, being lulled by the smooth tongues of the rebel cells.

Hence the police, orderly and repair cells were sent back to their stations, having been instructed henceforth to leave the rebel cells well enough alone.

The decision maker cells likewise instructed maintenance cells to remain available to the rebel cells in order to help them establish whatever infrastructure they required.

Hence, the tumor was granted irrigation with newly formed blood capillaries and vessels, allowing it greater access to food and oxygen - all the better for the common good, the rebel cells still claimed.

And thus supplied, the rebel cells went to work anew - with a vengeance.

As they kept on growing further in numbers, they came to co-opt (sorry: employ) the maintenance and road/highway cells, making them construct/deliver/divert more and more resources - which were in large part used first and foremost by the rebel cells, of course.

In time, some of the rebel cells even got the means to bribe supplier cells in giving them more resources than they needed, or endothelial cells to make cheaper capillaries, or quality control cells to look the other way, or even some decision-making cells to assure their continued support.

Then a momentous time came, when some of the rebel cells began to spread throughout their neighboring tissue - taking more and more place while increasingly displacing normal-behaving cells further.

So decision maker cells were called in again.

"We get little while they keep the most of what they make, in addition to having no other choice but to live in the mounting waste of their wake - waste which makes us sick or even dying!" The outraged normal cells shouted angrily. "Those capillaries and vessels they constructed are badly designed and all leaky!" They continued. "Not only is there less and less for us, and of us, now it has come to the point whereby we can't perform our roles adequately anymore in order to keep our tissue functional and healthy!" They added, thinking that such a potent argument would be quite difficult to counter, let alone dismiss.

But the ever crafty, self-serving rebel cells were more than prepared for such argument: "In order to keep growth going," they offered, "we must expand. Let those of us who grow the most quickly and who are the most sturdy leave this tissue in order to bring our growth-producing propsperity to other tissues and organs. Those others of us who will remain behind will slow down their growth and be more careful about waste, thus nevertheless keeping growth-producing prosperity alive and well here!"

Confused by such double-speak, the normal-behaving cells decided that this all made much sense. Consequently, the decision maker cells consented as well - especially since they were sold to the idea of "growth = prosperity" to begin with.

And so, many cancer cells used the leaky capillaries and vessels they constructed through their employment of connective tissue and endothelial cells in order to metastasize boldly go out and spread and practice their free, unregulated growth prosperity ideals to the rest of the body-organism.

Where the whole cycle was repeated again and again and again.

In between, those rebel cells which initially did slow down their growth and waste production eventually generated more aggressive cells anew - thus further amplifying the destructive cycle of unchecked, unregulated growth.

Leaving all their neighboring normal-behaving cells to gradually break down and die from lack of food, lack of oxygen and toxic waste.


And thus, there eventually came a time when the body-organism came to be sick.

Very, very sick.

Lungs were bleeding, the liver was shuting down, the kidneys were malfunctionning, and a whole slew of other breakdowns and/or malfunctions were ensuing throughout all organs and tissues.

As the body-organism laid in a vegetative state on its death-bed, physician body-organisms considered what options they could enact to heal this dying one.

High dosage chemotherapy was put forth - then dismissed. Although such treatment may kill all the cancer cells, too many of the remaining healthy cells would likewise be killed in the process - thus killing the patient most assuredly.

Radiotherapy as a possibility met the same decisional fate, for essentially the very same reason.

It was finally decided to attempt to render the body-organism better prepared to undergo drastic cancer therapies - if only for a short while.

The physician body-organisms did so by pumping intravenously a glucose-saline solution and by force-feeding through a tube nutritious foodstuff preparations.

It was hoped that enough food and energy would nevertheless reach the healthy cells, consequently making the sick body-organism that bit much stronger to undergo drastic cancer treatment.

Unfortunately, the rebel cells of the now generalized cancer running throughout the dying body-organism had come to be so self-serving, so self-centered and so aggressively greedy, that they managed to hoard - and consume - all of what was being pumped/force-fed.

Hence while they remained well off, all remaining normal-behaving cells died.

Thus the body organism died as well.

"If only that body-organism paid closer attention to its symptoms of illness and sought remedy when there was still much, much time left, instead of letting such cancer grow and fester!" One of the physician body-organism bemoaned upon the very last breath of their patient.

But woe as well was there for the rebel, cancer cells - for when their host body died, all foodstuff, energy and oxygen stopped being supplied even to them, consequently leaving them in turn - and in the last - with naught but bitter-sweet memories of prosperity.

"If only our single, malcontent and unhappy ancestor cell could have forseen such a terrible fate for us all!" Thus wept the dying cancer cells in distraught unisson.

And the darkness of oblivion prevailed forevermore.


Moral of the story: now you folks get to have fun "guessing" what this parabole is all about ... and what it may signify for our future.

(since I'm a good guy, here's a hint ... or two ... or three)

(Cross-posted from APOV)


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