On July 20, 1969, the human race accomplished its single greatest technological achievement of all time when a human first set foot on another celestial body. Six hours after landing at 4:17 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (with less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining), Neil A. Armstrong took the “Small Step” into our greater future when he stepped off the Lunar Module, named “Eagle,” onto the surface of the Moon, from which he could look up and see Earth in the heavens as no one had done before him. He was shortly joined by “Buzz” Aldrin, and the two astronauts spent 21 hours on the lunar surface and returned 46 pounds of lunar rocks. After their historic walks on the Moon, they successfully docked with the Command Module “Columbia,” in which Michael Collins was patiently orbiting the cold but no longer lifeless Moon.
South African wildlife experts are calling for urgent action against poachers after the last female rhinoceros in a popular game reserve near Johannesburg bled to death after having its horn hacked off. [...] The gang used tranquilliser guns and a helicopter to bring down the nine-year-old rhino cow. [...] Rhino horn consists of compressed keratin fibre – similar to hair – and in many Asian cultures it is a fundamental ingredient in traditional medicines.
So there you have it. Two perspectives for what to do on 20 July. In one, science and achievement land men on the moon. In another, “traditional medicines” make it profitable to kill off the last female of an already endangered species. For all the feel good grooviness of “traditional medicines,” my blood boils when I read articles like this. There’s just no excuse to patronize “traditional medicines” any more. We could be on our way to the stars, but instead we waste our world for super-spooky ghost cures.
Against all odds, people have found cures for some few illnesses in the ancient past. The cures that work are very worth keeping, testing and improving upon. But that never describes traditional medicine. Traditional medicine has to be spoken of distinctly from medicine. Medicine works because it works. Traditional medicine is traditional, so it must be medicine, so it must work. Yes, chamomile tea calms my upset tummy down almost right away. No, rhino horns don’t do a thing for anybody. When a cure doesn’t work, stop it. No matter if it’s traditional, no matter if it’s a cultural, no matter if it’s a custom. Some perspectives for what to do on 20 July are better than others.
Spitting contempt on “traditional medicines.”