The public arena is once again the stage for discourse and undertakings of Titanic proportions. Some endeavour to adjust our planet's thermostat while others devote themselves to wiping out the scourge of disease. The mythological comparison is certainly not gratuitous. Just as Zeus slaved the Titans, history may yet deal the same blow to those who seek to dominate the Universe through regulating global temperatures (the Copenhagen Summit), preventing the emergence of a new virus ("barrier measures" against H1N1 flu) or modifying the genomes of those people deemed 'deficient' (the Téléthon - a televised charity appeal). But Man's age-old quest to dominate Nature has now taken on a renewed vigour, thanks to ever faster and genuine developments in science and technology.
No one would contest that scientific progress leads to new ambitions and that it is a source of potentially far-reaching (albeit often unpredictable) transformations. Concerns arise, however, when the champions of these noble causes react with indignation to doubts as to whether their efforts that we are invited to join are in fact realistic. Dissonant voices are rapidly labelled hostile, or, as in the case of climate change, accused even of 'denial'. Expressions of scepticism are an inherent part of invention and innovation. Yet the moral condemnation they evoke would seem destined more to those shirking efforts to avert the Apocalypse. While on the one hand, Nature is glorified, on the other, there is no confidence in its ability to address its own imbalances. This task falls to the human race - the very force at the root of these evils. And meanwhile, as the drama unfolding on our TV screens projects the image of an idealised but impotent Mother Nature and a harmful but all-powerful Man, the Greek tragedy becomes... Commedia dell'Arte.
To cite this content :
Jean-Hervé Bradol, The return of the titans, 18 December 2009, URL : https://www.msf-crash.org/en/blog/humanitarian-actors-and-practice/return-titans
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