(See Part 1.) Continuing with my interpretation of why God afflicts us with plagues, even though we're not living in ancient Egypt and we haven't enslaved the Hebrews…
Question: If God is so good, why did he give us cancer?
Answer: This is a more serious question. There are many different kinds of cancer. Cancers vary according to where they begin in the body, how rapidly they spread, how difficult or complicated it is to treat them successfully, and so on. Nevertheless, there are important common features of the many kinds of cancer that suggest important metaphorical signs.
Cancer involves a breakdown in the genetic structure of a body cell. This breakdown can occur spontaneously from a variety of factors, including aging, exposure to carcinogens or radiation, or something that triggers a genetic propensity to a type of cancer. (For more information on the causes of cancer, see Causes of Cancer.) When a cell becomes cancerous, its cell proliferation loses its normal regulation and it begins to multiply, independently of the growth signals it gets from surrounding healthy tissue. (For more information on this, see The Hallmarks of Cancer.) Furthermore, virulent cancer spreads to other areas of the body. This is known as metastasis. (See Metastasis.)
These features of cancer suggest potential symbolic significance or analogies. The fundamental analogy is that a unit of society [such as an institution (education, news or entertainment, a religious denomination or sub-denomination), or a governmental level (a city, county or state), or an interest group (a union, a social club, a professional society or a government watchdog) suffers a breakdown in its social, legal and/or political DNA, and instead of contributing to the health of society, it becomes virulently antagonistic.
- A segment of society that gets old enough can develop a sense of entitlement that expresses itself in antisocial, antilegal or antipolitical phenomena (such as J. Edgar Hoover's FBI).
- A segment can be exposed to poisonous influences from outside, such as infiltration from a communist government (such as the former USSR or China), a terrorist cabal (such as ISIS/ISIL or Al Qaeda), a secretive religious society (such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the KKK or the Society of Freemasons), or a criminal enterprise (such as the Cosa Nostra or MS-13) or a combination of the above. Each of these organizations varies according to the institutions or other organs of society it invades or attacks.
- Organizations can arise spontaneously from the drumbeat of news media, academic institutions or political parties (analogous to "radiation"). Examples include the KKK, the Know Nothings, Occupy Wall Street (and other "Occupy" groups), Antifa (and Antifa types of movements), Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo. Each of these organization can easily degrade into something seriously violent, whether on a local, national or global level, depending on the degree of the radiation it is exposed to.
- A more serious kind of breakdown can occur in a governmental institution that is "weaponized" for the purpose of establishing political dominance or to establish a political objective which is unrelated or even contrary to the common good. There is hardly a department or branch of the federal government that has not been seriously tainted by inimical political objectives that have compromised its integrity. Such invasions may be likened to cancerous invasions of vital organs of the body, degrading their function and, in some cases, leading to death within a matter of months or even weeks if not treated.
Cancers can function parasitically in the body. Vital nutrients can be increasingly channeled to the dysfunctional growth of out-of-control tumors. This is analogous to the growth of government departments or agencies that collectively siphon off more and more of the resources of the economy that might otherwise have assisted in healthy economic growth. Especially troublesome is the growth of administrative overhead, providing salaries and benefits to bureaucrats whose jobs are justified through mandates requiring increasingly complex means of tracking and regulating disbursements. Furthermore, integration with private enterprise often produces more in waste than actual benefit, due to increasing requirements for government oversight and private enterprises treating programs as cash cows. This is one form of corporatism. One of the more serious negative side effects is that it tends to stifle technological innovation, even while pretending to advance it. Furthermore, the "third party" payment structure of government managed economic sectors create inefficiencies in consumption due to the phenomenon of moral hazard. The analogy here connects unproductive segments of society (especially segments whose only disability is lack of useful training) to cancerous tumors.
Human beings are, of course, infinitely more adaptable to positive change than cancer cells. Nevertheless, when social and governmental institutions begin to break down and societal divisions increase, the possibilities for such changes can become greatly diminished. This is especially the case in societies that are infected with what we might call the virus of a sense of entitlement. More on that later.