Sunday, 24 June 2018

The oldest question. Am I my brother’s keeper?

The oldest question. Am I my brother’s keeper?
 My dad told me that men don’t cry, they fight. I stuck by his advice most of my life without fail. I cried when my mother died, and cried when my baby son died. Over fifty years it's not much. Now I find myself abandoning my dad’s teachings. It’s a new world we live in and a lot of new rules exist. I see men cry even for what was done before they were born and I see a country cry with them. Canada realizes that many innocent people suffered to give us the comfort we enjoy today and apologies are made.
Now I find that a sob escapes my lips and tears feel my eyes more often. Could it be that I am becoming weak in my old age? Or is it me with more life experience, starting to see the truth. It happens under two conditions. One is when I see people unjustly suffer. They are victims and they can do nothing about it. I saw a picture of a two-year-old being taken from her mom by a border patrol agent in the US. The picture went viral and became the cover of some magazines. That terrible despair…….The mother, the girl. Later I discovered that the picture was not of one of the kids now in ditention. Not one of the 2300 jailed kids. My emotion didn’t change. Some kids like the little girl are seperated from parents, or jailed with them.
Another thing that makes me emotional is a great act of kindness, one that didn’t have to happen but did. I was in Calgary last week and saw an old man climbing into a City bus. He had some books and a pile of papers; it looked like a manuscript. The white pages slipped and fell to the ground, some under the bus. A few teenage girls ran over to pick up the papers, some kneeling and getting sheets of paper from under the bus. My lips said “thank you, Lord,” and that forbidden feeling of tears running down my cheeks came. The old man was not white, and the girls were.
Am I my brother's keeper? Why is the story of Abel and Cain at the beginning of the Bible? Just like the rest of us, I have a fear that people will take advantage of me. I hate the feeling. I see people begging, and I want to go to the other side of the street. The news reports showing people, lots of people, crossing borders looking for a place to stay scare me. Why don’t they fix their own countries instead of coming to where we built up a future for ourselves, I ask?. People who look able to work but are living on social assistance worry me. Government workers who make very little effort for very good wages and good pensions upset me. I personally know some, but not many.
The stories in the bible don’t make much sense either. People working for one hour and getting full day’s wages simply upset me. How could the person who invented Christianity not see that it's not fair to just forgive someone's debts if they didn’t work hard to make money?
On the other hand, I see cruelty at times performed for the pleasure of inflicting it. I watch real wars on TV and soldiers kill a huge number of people, often for their country ’s monetary profit. Petro dollars they call it.  People are crushing the world economy simply to come out on top. Governments are making laws that will inflict poverty on many and enrich a privileged few.  I am more scared of greedy powerful institutions than of possible economic migrants infiltering western countries or someone cheating welfare. My instincts say, let things happen and let the smart people handle things. The other side of me is persisting, “you must tell the story” just in case nobody else will.
Am I my brother's keeper? Do I have a duty to ignore the need to “fit in” and fight for the disadvantaged?  My newly acquired emotions say yes. We should all persistently motivate all people to do their best to support themselves, but we should not lose our humanity in doing so. That guy from Israel they call Jesus was right. No human being exists without making mistakes, and we all need forgiveness at some point.
In my life, things mostly moved forward, from worst to better. I lived in conditions that most of you would dismiss as impossible and now I am in heaven in comparison. I worked hard and I am enjoying the results. At the same time, I witnessed many people’s fortunes go the other way, often due to no fault of theirs. A taxi driver showed me his ID one time, indicating that he was a doctor in Yugoslavia. He was happy to drive a taxi 18 hours a day in Calgary and be alive. Most of his acquaintances did not fare so well. Is there any guarantee that the same faith is not awaiting my family and I?  None whatsoever……
The only way to expect mercy and consideration is for us to show some to others and pray that the same will be shown to us in return. If we propel humankind the other way, where the strongest survive at the expense of the weakest, there will always be someone faster or smarter than we and the road to hell is open.
I may not be the smartest person, and you easily find people more qualified than I to give you advice. Therefore I don’t give my own advice but that of a person from a long time ago which survived generations. Be your brother’s keeper and love your neighbor as yourself. Do not support those who preach the opposite since you may bring disaster upon yourself. When you fight, do so in moderation and obey the rules of engagement. When your heart tells you that injustice is happening, cry. Crying is in you for a good reason.
This is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Photo by John Moore from “The Lily”

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