Chasing After “Boo Boos”
My son has a new playground pastime-chasing kids down to kiss their “boo-boos.”
In my attempts to teach my son to be compassionate, I have now created a monster! One part of me is proud of it while another part is utterly embarrassed about the behavior.
Lately, if he hears a child crying, he immediately informs me that he needs to go give them a kiss. This would all be lovely except that he does it whether they want it or not, and even if they are just pitching a fit about going home. The mothers love that one. Their child is screaming and resisting and here comes my son to save the day, running with his arms out, yelling “I kiss your boo-boo!”
The problem is, he doesn’t take no for an answer due to his extremely strong-willed nature. So, when rejected, he starts having his own fit, screaming that he “needs” to kiss their “boo-boo” or hug them! He nearly followed one such child home the other day, trying to find a way to hug and kiss him, while I tried to explain that, while they are nice, we only give hugs and kisses to people who want them. I’m now nervously anticipating the day he will be socked over this. It’s all well intentioned, but not everybody is as affectionate as he is and half of them don’t even have so-called “boo-boos.”
Far too often, we behave like my toddler son, trying to force what we think is good for another person or what seems to work for us on them. And we pitch a fit when they don’t receive it. Whether this be to “enlighten” them with the correct doctrine or politics, to bring healing to them, or to “save them” in some way, it does not work unless they either want it or even legitimately need it. We only make ourselves odious to those around us because we come across as either arrogant or just plain ignorant.
If we will only listen and hear where another is at, we may understand what they truly need or are willing to hear rather than just forcing it on them, even if we do so with the best intentions. And we might just learn something about our own weaknesses or blind areas too!
As Israelis and Palestinians, we also need to do this and to stop spending so much time trying to open each other’s eyes or win each other over to our own cause, and then being so shocked when it’s not accepted. We need to truly listen, recognizing and appreciating where each person is coming from and the reasons we think or behave in certain ways.
Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet and scholar, writes
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about...
While this could be taken as a shot at ultimate truth or some lofty romantic overture, I see it as a compelling call to let go of what we think is right or wrong for a person or people and start from there. A field is a flat place, often a place of beauty, that a lot can be built from.
Christian theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, states:
“If proper listening does not precede it, how can it really be the right word for the other? If it is contradicted by one’s own lack of active helpfulness, how can it be a credible and truthful word? If it does not flow from the act of bearing with others but from impatience and the spirit of violence against others, how can it be the liberating and healing word?”
If we want to truly help someone, or even find out if they really need help, or enlighten them in some way, perhaps it’s best that we listen and allow our own eyes to be opened too. Otherwise, we are just foolishly running after them with well intentioned but misplaced kisses on non-existent “boo boos”.