Doctor My Eyes

open our eyes

A year ago following cataract surgery, I set alarms on my phone to remind me to apply my eye drops at regular intervals. I used Jackson Browne’s song, Doctor My Eyes as my eye-drop alarm so that I would immediately know what the alarm meant.

Since that surgery, my vision has improved in more ways than just giving me the ability to drive at night again. As social media explodes with outcries in the wake of the killing of two more black men by police officers, followed by numerous police officers shot by snipers in Dallas, the words to this song seem downright prophetic:

Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand…

Tonight, The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), released a video statement in response to some of this latest news. You can view it here.

She begins by quoting from Isaiah 61, which speaks of bringing good news and setting people free. She urges us to be present to one another and to open our eyes to really see each other because in so doing, it will become less and less easy to look at those we do not know through eyes of suspicion and distrust.

I pray that we listen.

Today I found myself consoling youth and young adults who are frightened and confused about the state of the world. They are rightly filled with righteous indignation and they don’t understand why the adults who are suppose to be guiding them and running things cannot see that all people need to be loved and accepted and that the violence that is tearing us apart is of our own making.

I assured one young woman in particular that while this is a fearful time, it is also a time in which more and more people are stepping up and committing to be part of the solution. More people are taking seriously the belief that love is stronger than hate, and more people are acting — using love to bring about change. I assured her that we are in this together and that the change she seeks is not on her shoulders alone to bring about.

I also told her that she was right, when she wrote: “This shit is unreal…it’s just violent, scary idiocracy. I believe in hope. I truly do. And we CAN change the future. But sometimes it’s hard to think positively and keep your damn head up.”

Our children are begging us to make it stop. If we cannot hear them, can we at least open our eyes and look into theirs and try to explain either what we are doing, and how they can help, or admit that we aren’t doing enough, and allow the pain in their eyes to inspire us to make changing their world a priority?

Because if we can’t, it’s only a matter of time before someone we love gets caught in the crossfire. And then Jackson Browne’s lyrics will haunt us all the more:

Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what you see
I hear their cries
Just say if it’s too late for me


  1. A favorite song from one of my favorite artists (and activists)! I connect on many levels with this post – and pray that as the above reply prays…that the scales on our eyes, and the defensive ones on our hearts and minds, do fall off. That, like Jackson who pleads with his “doctor”, we plead and are undeniably aided by our Healer to see the light, without shame (which I think so many are afraid they’ll feel – or be expected to feel). We don’t need shame, we need understanding – yup, the old tried and true walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. It was so good to meet you and have you with us at KofK last Sunday!


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