Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Nation Gets Good At Amputation... And Rehab

Please read Chloe Angyal of The Nation as she begins to place, After Boston, One Foot in Front of the Other. This inspiring essay examines the runners, the fans, and... less noticed but constantly with us in this era of perpetual war... the American troops. many of whom lost one or more limbs, yesterday in Boston or during a decade of war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of these people, now members of a regrettably nonexclusive club of amputees, are determined, through rehab, to run, to stand and cheer, or to take a significant place in society once again, a place comparable in its value to the one they occupied prior to losing a limb.

Paralympic basketball, US vs UK, 2012

Trust me on this: it ain't easy. Every day, many of these people get out of bed, grab their walker or wheelchair, hop or roll to wherever they keep their prosthesis, and engage in a ritual that renders them in some sense whole again. Every day they do what they must to strengthen their remaining muscles so they can walk, climb stairs, carry stuff, do jobs (my prosthetist has one client who is a construction worker) and... for an admirable few... run races, play contact sports, etc. Those are the real iron (wo)men. Never underestimate them; never discount their strength of spirit.

That said, and my admiration of these hardy souls notwithstanding, we've got to stop generating such an endless supply of amputees. Not one of them, even the soldier who expects injury as part of the job, wanted to lose a limb, and those who lost a limb yesterday certainly had no expectation of doing so. Like terrorism, war is a waste: it is a waste of time, of money, of material resources, and most of all, of human potential. Can America find some path to self-respect that does not involve murdering and maiming so many people, including so many of our own?

War is hell. Let us not send America to hell!

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