We are the house on the block that is the kid hub. Summer months are a steady flow of children on and off our front porch. Our driveway perpetually littered with broken pieces of sidewalk chalk and muddy footprints. We’re also the house that always has band-aids, which are in high demand whenever there are that many backyard adventures unfolding.
I made the decision several years ago we were just going to go all-in in the band-aid front. Cartoon characters and glitter, multi-packs of various skin tones. Our house is a band-aid buffet.
All summer long I patch up skinned knees and smashed fingers. I hand out a fair number of band-aids for bruises too, even though they don’t actually serve any purpose in those cases. Band-aids, for kids anyway, are less about function. They heal by way of another person affirming: “I can see you’re hurting.”
When we talk about vision we often think about “where am I going? What are my plans? My dreams?” But vision is also about Turning our eyes toward others, paying attention to their successes and dreams, their challenges and heartbreaks.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is credited with noting that “none of us are free till we are all free.” So if I’m dreaming about flourishing for my own life and future, I must also be deeply committed to seeing and working for the flourishing of my neighbor. Which usually starts with seeing where someone is hurting.
Band-aid-type fixes are often, rightly, critiqued. We often settle for quick, flashy approaches to meeting societal needs that may make us feel better in the moment but do little to sustain change over the long haul.
The surface-impact of band-aids is a poor way to approach the pain in our lives and in our societal systems. But the noticing aspect can be instructive. In our current moment, there are a million reasons every day to despair or grieve, and there are a million ways to look away, to distract, to refuse to notice.
Today, practice noticing. Pain in your own life. A challenge facing your community. Injustice in a system. Don’t look away. Then reach out to a trusted friend or loved one and invite them to come alongside and notice with you. Today, don’t worry about fixing the cause, today it is enough to say “I see you’re hurting.” Sometimes, a band-aid is enough.