Brain & Mind Systemic issues of India Systems

Riot: An immune system disorder

Every good doctor fears human body-systems more than any pathogen. You may be attacked by most virulent of the pathogens; but it is nothing comparable to when your own body-system goes against you.

When the architect of human body- DNA – goes out of control, you end up making cancer cells that refuse to do any work but to capture body resources for their own growth. When your immune system goes out of control, it attacks and destroys your own body tissues. And when this happens, you become helpless because your body is its own enemy that you can’t fight without harming your own self.

Allergic reaction is one such body reaction that can help us understand something seemingly unrelated but, may be, deeply connected i.e. riots!

Allergy is one of the commonest immune system malfunctions. It is very dramatic in its expression, as its symptoms appear extremely quickly and spread like wildfire. And yet, it can also disappear equally fast. It is a problem that can appear out of nowhere, spread rapidly and can look really dangerous while it is there, but it can also vanish with no real aftermath.

Curiously, allergy is not an illness, it is a reaction, rather over-reaction, of the body itself and hence it is what is termed as hyper-immune disorder. The troubling symptoms of allergy are nothing more than exaggerated form of the same functions that human immune system uses to defend the body. The problem is that this reaction is triggered by an imaginary enemy. Allergy flares up in response to stimulus that is mostly completely harmless because the immune system misreads it as a threat for unknown reasons, making it an extremely difficult problem to cure.

Allergy is a by-product of our immune system, making it impossible to be eradicated as it is part of something crucial. We can’t live without our immune system and hence, its momentary madness is an acceptable trade-off that we have to live with.

Riots have features very similar to an allergic reaction. They are reactions to what is perceived as a threat, very often an imaginary one. They are rapid in their flaring up and, when they are happening, they look extremely dangerous, and yet, interestingly, when they run their course, the agitated cells (in this case, humans) return to their previous state of normalcy.

If we look closely, a riot is not an act of an individual. It is a systemic reaction and thus it can manifest only through the collective, and this collective is always a mob. Mob psychology has been of a great interest to psychologists because, for some inexplicable reason, when part of a mob, a human being tends to lose individuality. His actions are no longer driven by his will and he gets governed by cues that emerge from a different, may be systemic level. This allows even the mildest person to indulge into most horrendous acts (that he cannot relate to as an individual) when part of a mob.

But, this mob behavior is not without purpose. It is a great tool of self-defense for a community. Individuals, as a part of the mob, are able to do things that their individual fear (or morality) will not allow them to do. This mass-frenzy is of a great use in dire circumstances like war, making it a very essential system for over-all survival of the community.

Riots, thus, are part of the immune system we have to protect our social existence. Just like allergy, when this reaction is towards an imaginary threat, it becomes a problem. But, expecting removal of either completely is hopeless.

The only option we have is to live with both while trying to ensure that exposure to the allergen is reduced as far as possible.

DNA: 30/8/15

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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