Versus

Originally written Sunday, August 11, 2008.

I wasn’t planning on watching the Olympics, but I inevitably got swept up into the drama.

Last night  I saw the U.S. beat France in the relay by 8/10th of a second. Michael Phelps, the young man who is expected to win eight gold medals in swimming this year–to beat Mark Spitz’s record–spread his arms wide and howled over the pool as his time came up on the screen. You could see every sinew of his muscles, and every shadow between those muscles.

I thought, “we build them better here.”

Meanwhile in other news, I read the conflict between Georgia and Russia had escalated. Over 2,000 Georgians were dead and 40,000 had fled their homes. Putin fled the Olympics, while Bush stayed. No American troops would be sent to Georgia, though the country has contributed the third largest number of soldiers to fight in our war.

Today, Georgia would withdraw roughly 2,000 troops from Iraq to fight in their war… though, of course, not to replace their dead.

In my own life, I would deal with an unsettling conflict with my brother when, while driving along Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, we encountered two men tackling one another in the dirt along the side of the road. My brother wanted to stop; I did not, and wanted the police to handle it.

Later, my brother would say I reacted the way I did because:  “You’re a woman.”

At this, I erupted, and he erupted back–I thought he might punch me or I him, so I lept out of the car once we stopped at a red light and walked the remaining mile or so back to his house.

To live, I suppose, there is no escaping conflict: country versus country; human versus human–in perpetuity.

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