The Age of ‘Bleeding’

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Dr. Mohammad T. Al-Rasheed

Published — Thursday 12 February 2004

Last Update 12 February 2004 3:00 am

For most of human history, bloodletting or “bleeding,” either by incision or by leech was considered a mighty cure-all for all human ailments.

According to reliable historians, more people died from the bleeding than from the ailments which led them to be bled.

As the body tried to fight the sickness, it was deprived of the blood it needed to do to. Easy for us to see the reality today but we have not yet totally moved away from the nasty practice.

I suppose bloodletting is as viable in curing human societies as it is in curing the human body. Hence wars, terror, murder, crime, etc. I must admit it is a nice way of explaining things and allows us to relax in moral comfort.

Before you think me on a flight of fancy of the pathetic fallacy type, let me tell you that around the corner from my house in Jeddah, a new “bleeding” clinic has just opened. You can’t miss it: There is a big sign declaring it to be such an entity, even using the Arabic word for bleeding.

To my way of thinking, this business venture is indicative of many things. Most importantly, it tells you that no matter how advanced science is, there really is no alternative to “other” books to cure fossilized brains.

I respect the businessman’s (or businesswoman’s) right to start such a venture, provided that society at large is protected from unhealthy practices just as I respect Janet Jackson’s right to expose herself but I deny her the right to show me what I don’t want to see.

Another implication that sits uncomfortably in the background is the idea that “waste” is the best cure for all our ills. Culling is indeed the most common practice on this earth. When it comes to leeches, we simply cannot survive without them. Some people see them in the shape of big business.

I somehow see that big business actually delivers something at the end of the day. Bechtel, for example, will build you a beautiful and functioning airport at the end of the day. Most of us, however, will identify our social leeches as politicians who tell us that they know best. In the “good” old days, they used to claim providential rights to tell us what to eat and wear. Today they claim exclusive, if not providential, access to reality, truth and the weather.

If you are not convinced, they will hold press conferences and talk to you as if you are a demented social animal in desperate need of bleeding.

Add to this injury the insult of not gorging themselves on your blood as Dracula used to do. They simply allow it to flow endlessly into the desert sand. Are you surprised then that in this day and age a “bleeding” clinic has just opened in my neighborhood?

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