The human immune system is truly amazing in its ability to fight off bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.
It performs this mission in a relentless effort to keep us healthy. It stands guard so the rest of the body can go about the task of living.
But instead of being restricted to just one or two organs, our immune system comprises many organs, tissues, cells, and molecules. The human immune system is capable of identifying enemy intruders, mounting attacks, and eliminating pathogens. Amazingly it also stores information on these pathogens for future attacks. And it can do all this within the span of 10 days.
Innate and Adaptive Responses
The immune system consists to two basic branches.
The first of these is the innate immune response. This part of the immune system is often called “non-specific” because it does not discriminate between different types of invaders to the body. And it’s fast. It attacks invaders within minutes. One of the earliest signs that your innate immune response is at work is the presences of a fever or the inflammation of tissue.
The innate immune response takes place in the body’s largest organ—the skin. The skin is the body’s first line of defense. Others include the mucus membranes, the cilia of the air passages, the acids of the stomach, and the lysozymes in tears. They all indiscriminately attack or expel invaders to the body.
The second branch of the immune system is the adaptive immune response. This differs from the innate in that it is highly specific in the types of invaders it attacks. The “soldier cells” of the adaptive immune response (leukocytes—white blood cells) have receptors which can distinguish between friends and foes.
In contrast to the innate immune response, the adaptive response can take days or weeks to respond. This is because it takes time for its attack cells to first recognize an intruder as an enemy and store that information. Then these cells must replicate (clonal expansion) to attack this specific enemy.
These soldier cells of the adaptive immune response not only attack invasive bacteria. Some (called “natural killer cells”) also attack local cells which have been infected by viruses or which have “gone rogue” (i.e. cancer cells). The weapons these soldier cells use to kill invaders are varied. Sometimes they kill invaders by absorbing them (a process called phagocytosis). Others kill invaders by releasing “cytotoxic granules” which cause the invader’s death. Many of these soldier cells perform a mission as memory cells—storing “intelligence” on a specific enemy in case of future invasions.
Immune System Complexity
None of what I’ve said does justice to the complexity of the human immune system. It consists of so many components, missions, functions, and tiers that it boggles the mind. But without this defense system, the body would die in a matter of days. One has only to look at the heart-breaking examples of those whose immune system is nonfunctional due to genetics or illness (e.g. HIV/AIDS).
Yet as critical as the immune system is to our survival, it is probably the most under-appreciated component of our health. We never think of it—until we get sick. But once sickness invades our bodies, then we become keenly aware of our need to support our immune system. We gobble down plenty of Vitamin C, drink plenty of fluids, and get plenty of rest. We do all this to support the brave soldier cells and antibodies of the body’s defense system.
Isn’t it the same with our Nation’s defense system—our armed forces and uniformed services? These men and women remain constantly vigilant against all our enemies, both foreign and domestic. During times of peace (i.e. good health) our congress will argue for a diminished role of the military. They argue that our taxpayers’ dollars could be so much better spent on “peacetime dividend” projects rather than on defense.
And, of course, there are the ever present pacifists who see no valid role whatsoever for a military. Of course, there is no such thing as a true pacifist. For every pacifist’s body is busy fighting a relentless war against outside invaders. In the same way, every advocate for open borders is a bit of a hypocrite in that his own skin is an impenetrable border against all intruders.
What is most sad is that pacifists benefit from the sacrifices of braver men and women. Yet they don’t even acknowledge the necessity of the heroic acts these men and women perform daily. Therefore it behooves us to acknowledge the contribution and sacrifice of our armed and uniformed services and thank them for their service. Without them evil and chaos would quickly overrun and destroy us.
Dear Father in heaven, please bless America. Heal our nation of its many divisions and mend its every flaw. Turn the hearts of Americans to you in faith and repentance and to each other in love and reconciliation. Raise up godly men and women to fill the ranks of leadership in our government, that they may lead our nation in the path of righteousness. Please bless and protect the men and women of our Armed Forces. Make us ever-mindful of their contribution and sacrifices. Grant them success in their mission and bring them safely home to their families. Keep our nation strong and free, dear Father, and lead our nation from victory to victory as your instrument of freedom, justice, and peace. Amen.