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The Band-Aid was invented in 1920. It did not become popular until World War II, when we sent millions of sterilized pads overseas. The first decorative Band-Aids appeared in 1951. But as to when it became a metaphor is lost among the untreated wounds of time. From my extensive research, however, I do know that it is a much-despised metaphor, especially by those frustrated by some problem. It signifies a stop-gap measure plus the pain of removing something that has gone on too long, unless 'twere done quickly.

The word "Band-Aid" often appears in the same sentence as "cure," the one representing an unacceptable reality and the other an unattainable ideal. Cartoon politicos often sport multiple patches and a dazed, post-accident look. This is to some extent, unfair. Whether the problem is immigration, financial or personal, all solutions are Band-Aids.

In politics, Winston Churchill didn't call democracy a good form of government, just the best we had come up with in 2,500 years. The far-seeing framers of our Constitution limited their aim to creating a more perfect union, not a perfect one.

In economics, capitalism for the moment is in charge, but for those not at the top of the food chain, it's hardly The Cure.

We solve marriages with insoluble problems by dissolution...until the next time.  Particular diseases come and go, but the common cold remains. There are no cures for war or a broken heart, for political stupidity or greed, for bigotry and intolerance. No one in the history of the world has found a cure for the human condition.


And yet, the quest goes on, as futile and relentless as the search for the Holy Grail or the Fountain of Youth, or belief in the South Sea Bubble, the Housing Bubble and the orgone box. Everyone is looking for the perfect adhesive, the perfect solvent, the thing that will take the life out of life, the unexpected and the expected.

Let's be thankful for band-aids, of many different sizes and colors. They may provide only temporary relief, but they let us know we still bleed. And there are always more where they came from.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Friedlander.

Richard Friedlander is a mediator.  He lives in the East Bay.