How Muscle Cells Give Insight to Human Behavior

DepolYou’ve undoubtedly noticed the stark contrast in political and social views prevailing in our country today. It seems that gray is no longer the new black, but that black or white is the new black.

Black or white. Left or right. This side or that. Not either or, but just, or.

This observation made me think about what it might take to depolarize what seem to be two very different, very opposing sides (and whether that’s even possible). This thought then led me to think about things in nature that undergo the process of depolarization and what benefits derive from it. Allow me to explain…

Have you ever tried doing a bicep curl? Specifically, the kind where your fist is gripped firmly around a double-double cheeseburger while watching your bicep contract and perform a glorious act of gross motor skill, lifting the burger every so gracefully toward your face hole? I mean, mouth.  (insert veggie burger if vegan or something else if you don’t live in California 🙂 )

Do you know what is happening at the cellular level?

The muscle cells of your arm are undergoing a process called depolarization!, causing your bicep muscle to contract! When a cell depolarizes, it becomes more positive (this is measured in millivolts, by the way) and when the need for the contraction ceases, positively charged ions exit the cell (making it more negative), and the cell repolarizes back to its resting state.

And so− depolarization means action. Movement. Getting stuff done! Which got me thinking that the only way that the citizens of our nation will ever gain traction and create real change is by agreeing to disagree with people who have very different, very opposing views. (And because I don’t have the energy to explain that I don’t mean that this applies to racists or misogynistic or fill in the blank, please just know that I mean meeting in the middle on things that are reasonable to disagree upon, and be okay with it.)

Now, going back to the cell metaphor, what would happen if that same cell went into a state of hyperpolarization, becoming even more negative (i.e. below it’s resting point)?

The answer? It would take an even greater stimulus to give the cell enough steam to create the action potential necessary to create a contraction.

Now, this is not to say that any of us are at risk of our cells entering and staying in a state of hyperpolarization! But I simply want to use the metaphor of a cell in action (depolarized) and a cell that is, well, insensitive (hyperpolarized), and relate it to the way in which the world around me seems. When I say world, I mean my world (America).

My world has become hyperpolarized- a bit numb and in a state of unrest. Which leads me to beg the question, what can be done about this?

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