20 March, 2006

Purple Green Yellow Black Blue Red

I have, on the inside of my left elbow, a bruise the size of a Kennedy half-dollar. It is an interesting puddle of colours, leftover from the IV catheter inserted wrongly. It'll probably be there for another week or two and then go away. The fact that it exists at all is tangible proof of the messiness of life. With as advanced as our medicine has become over the last thousand years, inserting an IV seems pretty basic. Find a vein, prick it with a needle, guide in the catheter.

When you read about it, it seems easy. Tab A into Slot B, end of story. But when you are the patient in pain and anxious about more pain or the nurse treating a dehydrated overweight person with no visible veins to speak of it's altogether different. It's life.

I keep reading both sides of the abortion debate, the death penalty debate, the immigration debate and the war debate. From where I sit, on the other side of words it all seems cut and dried. There is a Tab A. There is a Slot B. Pick up a side and go with it. It's like watching people on TV kill each other. From the seats in the audience you can't taste the pain.

I was reading about the abortion pill at Rachel's. I've been hearing about this pill for years, about how easy it makes abortion. Then I read more detail and discover that it, like my IV, may be plain to read about but not so straightforward in practice. Multiple visits, cramps, bleeding, nausea. It struck me that both sides of the debate seem to have glossed over the women.

I was reading about the 3rd year anniversary of the war in Iraq. Again, two sides--both vocal. Again, more simplification. One is right. One is wrong.

Nobody ever seems to want to admit to the bruise. To the unintended, unexpected and messy consequence of any choice or action. Everyone has a vested interest in being right--so much so that we all seem to glide past the bruises we ourselves cause in order to focus on the stupidity of the opposition. Like Yeats' worst, we are all filled with passionate intensity. Does it do any good? I don't know. Perhaps I equivocate too much. It wouldn't be the first time for me to do something to excess. It's just that I have picked many sides over the years. I always felt that I picked the right side for the right reason. How many bruises did I cause, and how many did I ignore? Too many to count, I'm sure.


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