Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Trauma Center

Is it better to lose with principles than win without them?

Now that is such a moronic question, it's probably a line from a "Billy Jack" film!

There are more kinds of win/lose in this world Horatio, than are dreamnt of in your middle age, middle class, middle America perspective.

All through history, right up to today, there's places where win means you eat tomorrow. Places where lose means your entire family gets slaughtered.

If it's Crockett losing his Congressional seat for opposing Jackson on Indian relocation, OK. I'd prefer to lose like Crockett than win like Jackson.

If it's Joan of Arc? Losing means being burned alive. Impossible for me to say I'd have her kind of courage in such a situation.

Well then, what about the Trauma Center? We humans prefer war as a series of battles. That way you get feedback, and have the opportunity to tweak your strategy for next time. What about one long never ending battle where there's no scoreboard to look at? What would that be like? How would one hold on to principle in the absence of earthly affirmation? Cause that's what it must feel like.

There are some people in beds at every Trauma center who are innocent in their wounds. Realistically, they are the minority. Mostly it's gangbangers and related violent criminals, along with dopers and drunk drivers. There are frequently patients at the TC who are so dangerous, they're accompanied throughout their visit by a Police Officer, everywhere but surgery.

What a dream job that must be! You go to Med school, raise your cookie hook, take the Hippocratic Oath, they teach ya the secret handshake, and by gum you're a Doctor! You're gonna save lives! Welcome to the Trauma Center. Many of your patients will be those who by their behavior demonstrate they value their lives less than you're expected to value their lives. How exactly does that feel?

Some you patch will go right back and do it again, and keep doing it until they've earned their toe tags. Others you patch will have a wider arc of destruction; they'll kill some innocents before they're done. Some rare few, this will be a wake-up call, and they go on to bless, not destroy lives. Point is, you'll never know will ya? No scoreboard to look at in this game!

Ahh, but there is so much more to see at the Trauma center. To understand the mundane, observe the extreme. In a way, everybody who's trying to do right works at a Trauma center. In our war we get battles and spaces between battles. We get some feedback. Don't loan money to your brother in law is helpful feedback. When a mosquito lands on your crotch, think before you swat, helpful feedback too.

But some part of all our lives is like a Trauma center. You're asked to use your skills and experience to do the right thing at any given moment, when there'll be no look at the scoreboard for you this time.

Scoreboards are a desired part of the human experience, but part of life has no scoreboard. Pushing forward without a glance at the scoreboard is faith in action.

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