the eternal lighthouse

the eternal lighthouse

A lighthouse illuminates in the middle of the darkness. A lighthouse provides security against any storm. A beacon is always there: radiating light, confidence, serenity. That has been Professor Santiago Grisolía for us: the illuminating beacon of science in the Valencian Community. The soul that permeated the renewed humanism of this land with science. Santiago –he never let me put the well-deserved “gift” before him– was an optimistic person, a young man who would be a hundred years old in five months. A century of fruitful life. We all looked forward to that moment. We took it for sure. Because Professor Grisolía, with his vitality and that permanent shine in his eyes, seemed to defy all the laws of nature.

Grisolía, our best scientist, has been the fundamental atom to activate Valencian science. The man who was born before penicillin and who promoted studies of the human genome for UNESCO. A giant between two worlds: yesterday and tomorrow. The president of the Consell Valencià de Cultura turned out to be such a wise person that, like authentic teachers, he understood that wisdom nests in humility. He was a person so illustrious as to say: “The important thing in life is not jobs, honors or money, but what one can do for others.”

That generous gaze shaped the two traits I have most admired in him. From the first day I met him forty years ago –and some time later, when President Lerma commissioned me to collaborate with the Generalitat with Professor Grisolía for the launch of the Rei Jaume I awards–, I was impressed by his humanistic vision of science. I was amazed at his overcoming of the frontiers in knowledge and the enlightened vindication of reason. With him, one learned that one did not have to choose between being in letters or science. Knowledge and reason, foundations of a free society, only have one side. The opposite is darkness. And that is why the teacher was our beacon: because he always led us towards the light. A passionate beacon who contributed – and I would say that this was his greatest “discovery” – some awards that have placed Spanish science closer than it should be in society, in the economy, in the classroom. With his dream of the Jaume I, which immediately became ours, he led a sort of democratizing revolution in science that went beyond the laboratory.

This transversal view explains a second civic attribute of the teacher: his firm commitment to society and his defense of institutionality. Professor Grisolía was a citizen who lived a fundamental part of his life in the United States, where he met President Truman. There he was impregnated with the best values ​​of democracy. Perhaps that is why he understood institutional loyalty as the cornerstone of his contribution to society. From that loyalty he always demanded a public and private boost to science. He was not speaking in the abstract. He spoke that perennial boy who, at only fourteen years old, had known the transcendence of medicine working in a war hospital controlled by the CNT. He spoke the man to whom time proved him right: the border between life or death in the current pandemic was in a vaccine. In science. And that’s why he asked for more for science. Because it was giving more to society, to others. In the war hospital or in this harsh pandemic.

Today is a sad day. It seems incredible: Santiago Grisolía has passed away. We lose the friend, the accomplice, the illustrious scientist who came to be distinguished with the Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific Research. We lose a lot. But the teacher, who was always one step ahead of us – whether on foot or in a wheelchair – had already taken into account that one day he would leave. And, as a good wise man, he left us the lighthouse built and with an eternal light. That is his great legacy: the Rei Jaume I Awards. They distinguish excellence, effort, talent. that honor science. That imbricate it more in society. That show us the horizon: the light to drive away the darkness. That has been his last lesson. Thank you Professor. Thank you Santiago.

Source: Elespanol

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